BRATTLEBORO — The US Division of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $99,990 in funding to Meals Connects in its newest spherical of awards. One among two Vermont grantees, Meals Connects will leverage these funds to develop new provide chains targeted on assembly the wants of faculty diet packages.
To extend the influence of the challenge, Meals Connects is collaborating with three Farm to Faculty companions — Very important Communities, Inexperienced Mountain Farm-to-Faculty, and VT FEED. This collaboration connects native meals techniques to bigger regional networks, permitting for the creation of latest provide chains and specialty merchandise to maneuver all through the state.
Meals Connects will amplify its present outreach efforts, reaching extra colleges and growing a broadened buyer base for native farms and producers. In partnership with VT FEED, Meals Connects may even enhance its help to high school diet professionals (SNPs) by way of new skilled growth alternatives and procurement coaching.
“This grant is a pure subsequent step for Meals Connects and can assist us develop to fulfill the wants of the second,” says Richard Berkfield, Meals Connects Government Director. “Curiosity within the Meals Hub — and native meals normally — skyrocketed within the wake of COVID-19 and we proceed to see unprecedented calls for positioned on college diet professionals working to deal with an unpredictable future.”
COVID-19 enormously modified the panorama Meals Connects operates in since initially writing the grant. Whereas the grant targets stay the identical, implementation will probably fluctuate and should be versatile with a view to stay related. Notably, SNPs all through the state are grappling with new restrictions and limitations put in place in response to the pandemic. To-go meals and delivering a number of days price of meals at a time have turn into the brand new norm.
Meals Connects has additionally seen constructive modifications post-COVID: a brand new worth positioned on native meals, customers extra involved about provide chain resilience, and an appreciation for the position college diet performs in kids’s lives. With this challenge, Meals Connects and its companions will lay the groundwork for a decentralized, regional various to the nationwide monoliths, enabling colleges and customers to purchase quite a lot of merchandise regionally, sustainably, and simply.
To be taught extra and comply with Meals Connects’ work, go to www.foodconnects.org.
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