Covid-relief program Everyone Eats on track to deliver 400,000 meals

State legislators joined Springfield Family Center during their distribution of the Vermont Everyone Eats meals
State legislators joined Springfield Family Center during their distribution of the Vermont Everyone Eats meals. Photo by Tara Chase

SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – Vermont Everyone Eats organizers and area legislators gathered recently at one of the program’s weekly distribution points to highlight the impact the Covid-relief program has made in the 12 weeks since Springfield Family Center and Chester Helping Hands launched Vermont Everyone Eats. In August, the Vermont Legislature provided $5 million in CARES Act funding to create this program that engages restaurants to prepare meals for Vermonters hit by the pandemic.

“Just three months since funding was granted, Vermont Everyone Eats ‘hubs’ have launched in all 14 counties, engaging more than 100 Vermont restaurants and distributing meals at over 130 distribution sites,” said Steve Geller, executive director of Southeastern Vermont Community Action, the agency overseeing the statewide effort. “The Covid pandemic has inspired many of us to step up and take action. With Vermont Everyone Eats, SEVCA saw an opportunity to help Vermonters in need by demonstrating our belief that poverty need not be a permanent condition, that people can be empowered to rise out of poverty, and that the strength of our communities is measured by the quality of life of everyone within them.”

Advocates are celebrating the strategy of tying food assistance to local economic development. Restaurants have been hard hit as the pandemic has turned their world upside down. Vermont Everyone Eats is a restaurant and local farm-based stimulus that simultaneously increases the amount of meals available in a community. According to Springfield Family Center Executive Director Trisha Paradis, this is extremely important for Springfield, a region that experiences a significantly higher poverty rate than the state. “During the first six months of the pandemic, the Springfield Family Center distributed 1,145 food boxes serving 2,578 people cumulatively across our catchment areas and also provided 21,407 community meals. Springfield suffers from a poverty rate that is 103% higher than Vermont’s average and 90% higher than national levels.”

For Springfield Family Center, which has been providing food in the area for 49 years, VEE meals augment the food services they are already offer while simultaneously benefiting restaurants and farmers in their area. As of the end of October, the group had provided more than 16,000 VEE restaurant meals to area residents.

Everyone Eats meals are available through a variety of distribution channels, including food shelves, community meal sites, healthcare clinics, day care centers, and dedicated outdoor meal distribution hubs. Meals are coordinated at the community level by 16 community hubs, or collaborations, that have formed to initiate and manage the program.

To find a distribution site near you, go to and select Find A Meal. Vermonters can also download digital vouchers to be used in participating restaurants from the Vermont Everyone Eats Digital Voucher app, created by Localvore – a Vermont tech company. For information about Everyone Eats Digital Vouchers, visit

Currently, the program is funded through mid-December. “Across the state, we’ve built a significant and successful relief program in a matter of weeks. Vermonters never fail to rise when challenges loom large,” said Sue Minter, executive director of Capstone Community Action and VEE partner. “We’re calling for Congress to pass a stimulus bill to extend this needed help for our restaurants and hungry Vermonters. Winter is around the corner and with it, the growing need for food, heat, and economic security.”

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