In this legislative update, rather than focus on Statehouse activity, I will focus on food security. We have all seen, with many of us in, the long lines at Food Box distribution sites. I’ve talked with people associated with food shelves throughout the state. Many are not seeing increased requests within their food shelves that would be expected based on the long lines at the distribution sites. Also numbers for many of the school distribution sites across the state have dropped off. Yet we know we have increased need. We need to understand why people may decide not to access local food assistance sources. Any thoughts and ideas on the issues or how the systems could be changed to serve more people, please email me. email@example.com.
The following provides locations and programs offering food assistance:
EWSD’s Child Nutrition Food Services provides free breakfast and lunch for all youth 18 and under through at least June 30th. Children do not need to be in the car. Pick up as many meals as are needed at any of the below locations Monday through Friday:
ADL - 104 Maple St - 8am to 10am, Essex Elementary School - 1 Bixby Hill Road - 9am to 11am, Westford School - 146 Brookside Road - 10 am to Noon .
Aunt Dot’s Place located at 51 Center Road is providing pre-packaged boxes of food delivered to your car. Hours are Tuesday 6pm to 7:30pm; Thursday 9am to 11am; Saturday 9am to 11am. Contact information is www.auntdotsplace.com or 802-857-8208.
Heavenly Food Pantry located at 39 Main St is providing pre-packaged food boxes delivered to your car. Hours are the 2nd Monday of the Month 5:30 to 7:30pm and the 4th Thursday of the month 2pm to 6pm. June dates are June 8th and June 25th.
3Squares - You or your household may be eligible for 3SquaresVT, a federal food program that helps Vermonters purchase food at most grocery stores, convenience stores, farmers' markets, and co-ops. To learn more and find out if you qualify for 3SquaresVT visit: https://www.hungerfreevt.org/covid-19squaresvt.
3Squares members will see an automatic increase in their June benefits. If a household is eligible in May 2020, the added benefit is available June 16th by direct deposit or when the check arrives. A member doesn’t need to do anything to receive the increased benefit.
Vermont is now offering 3Squares online purchasing so Vermonters can buy eligible food items online with two retailers. This ensures a safe method for buying food during our current health crisis. More information at https://dcf.vermont.gov/benefits/EBT/Online
P-EBT is a new resource providing money to purchase groceries to families with kids who would be accessing free school meals if school wasn't closed. Many families have already been notified that they qualify and will be receiving P-EBT soon. Households already enrolled in 3SquaresVT will have P-EBT loaded on the card they already have. Other households will get a EBT card in the mail, similar to a debit card, that can be used at most food retailers. All families with school-aged kids are encouraged to apply to see if they qualify for P-EBT. More info here: https://dcf.vermont.gov/esd/covid19
Back to legislative news, the body continues to meet with our focus on COVID related bills and the need to pass a first quarter budget. This week we passed our Capital Bill with the Transportation bill passing second reading. In the healthcare committee we are reviewing emergency legislation passed in March to determine what policy changes need to continue past the end of the emergency declaration. Our committee will quickly pivot to establishing a plan for dollars allocated in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to ensure we are protecting the health of Vermonters and the sustainability of our healthcare system.
Please continue to be well and reach out if I can answer questions or be of any assistance.