United States Department of Argiculture Rural Development (USDA RD) officials visited the Vermont Foodbank in Brattleboro Friday to announce two grants totaling $26,700 aimed at helping the organization fight food insecurity across Southern Vermont. USDA RD Vermont and New Hampshire State Director Ted Brady said an $8,500 grant will be used to help the Vermont Foodbank purchase a vehicle for use in Southern Vermont and a separate $18,200 grant will be used to upgrade the Vermont Foodbank's Brattleboro Distribution Center.
"The Vermont Foodbank has demonstrated its ability and dedication to combating hunger throughout the state and USDA is eager to partner with them in their efforts to enhance assistance in the southern region." Brady said. "USDA is seeking solutions to combat hunger and food insecurity – especially through innovative approaches that match local food systems with hunger-fighting non-profits. Vermont Foodbank is a leader in this arena."
"The Vermont Foodbank is grateful for USDA's support to assist with our transportation needs and to make improvements in our Brattleboro distribution center," said John Sayles, CEO of the Vermont Foodbank. "The grant helps us to maximize every dollar so that we can ensure that Vermont communities have nutritious food for everyone."
The Vermont Foodbank used the $8,500 grant to purchase a 2014 Subaru Forester to help the organization do outreach across Southern Vermont. Before the vehicle purchase, the closest office vehicle was in Barre. The second $18,200 grant will be used to make the Brattleboro Distribution Center more accessible, add new shelving and racking systems to hold inventory, purchase a freezer, and make other improvements. The Foodbank estimates every dollar they receive helps provide three meals to hungry Vermonters. The $26,700 announced today represents more than 75,000 meals to Southern Vermont. With the addition of these two grants, the Vermont Foodbank has received nearly $50,000 in USDA RD grant funding in 2013 to combat hunger in Southern Vermont at its Brattleboro and Rutland locations.
The two grants announced today were made possible by USDA RD's Community Facilities Loan and Grant Program which serves non-profits and public bodies located in service areas of up to 20,000 in population. The funding is for capital needs of essential community facilities. In addition to food security projects, other eligible projects include those supporting child care, health care, public safety, municipal infrastructure, libraries, education and energy efficiency.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack noted that Rural Development's initiative to strengthen and develop the food security network is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy. He said that's just one reason why Congress must pass a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business, and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. For more information on Rural Development or the Community Facilities Program visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/nh-vtHome.html or contact USDA Rural Development at (802) 828-6000 in Vermont and (603) 223-6035 in New Hampshire.