Food Insecurity in the COVID-19 Era

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Posted by acavert on 12/10/2020

Great presentation - food insecurity in Vermont is something that I am really interested in and what I worked on this past summer. I liked that you guys proposed ideas for salvaging food waste because there are a number of new programs throughout the state focused on this. I am curious if you found any rural specific programs in Vermont working on specific aspects of food insecurity?

Posted by acohen18 on 12/10/2020 Reply to acavert

Hey Alex, thanks for the kind words! We did find a handful of programs that are being tried out and evaluated, although they are not necessarily specific to rural Vermont and in fact most of them tend to be centered around bigger hubs like the greater Burlington area.

3SquaresVT is the Vermont name for the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. This allows families with children or who are below 185% of the federal poverty level to receive up to $235/month/household as well as free school meals. Interestingly though a study done in 2016 showed that although this program has helped families eat healthier foods, families still feel the same amount of food insecurity on a day-to-day basis.

Another program that is primarily based in the Greater Burlington Area is the Interval Gleaning and Food Rescue Program and the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf. It was unclear whether this program really had an effect on the perceived food insecurity of the participants. However, I imagine that this could greatly benefit those who are food insecure at least by providing healthy options rather than canned goods high in sodium and other preservatives. They did mention that people really appreciated the education and social interaction that can be provided at places like the food shelf so I imagine that is being negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Posted by acohen18 on 12/10/2020 Reply to acavert

As an add on, Luke's DIV preceptor who was in a rural part of the state, actually had a program where there was readily available fruits and vegetables in the primary care office. These were free of charge for patients to just be able to take as they needed without any questions asked. So that was a more rural method of addressing food insecurity that did not require invasive questioning, and maybe one that can be expanded on in the future.