Every Penny Counts: Helping Our Neighbors in Need

One in four Vermonters will experience food insecurity as the Covid-19 crisis continues on, according to a recent UVM stateside survey. We find this statistic deeply troubling. So, with the support of our amazing customers, we’re doing what we can to help our neighbors in need. Together, we can make a real impact.

We recently kicked off our 15th annual Harvest for Hunger campaign. The fundraiser helps buy fresh produce for the community food shelves in Woodstock and Reading/West Windsor. Last year we launched a similar program at our new location in Waterbury, Vermont, with proceeds going to the Waterbury Area Food Shelf.

Thank you to everyone who has opted to round up at the register (sometimes multiple times per day) or have left donations in the collection boxes. In 2019 we collected $8,486 during the campaign, and with the increased need due to Covid-19, we’re hoping for another successful year. We’re excited to report that one week into the 2020 campaign, we’ve already raised over $1K.

“WFM sees a real need to have fresh produce available for those who come to the food shelf,” said Steve Moyer, former WFM partner who headed up the program during its first 14 years. The produce team takes time when placing orders to ensure a nice selection of fresh, seasonal items. Every two weeks, from November to May, food shelf volunteers pick up their delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables at the Market.

How It All Began

The campaign has been a holiday tradition at the Market for over a decade. It all started in 2006, when we put out collection boxes at the cash registers with the pledge to match whatever funds were donated to buy fresh produce for the community food shelf. The program was called “Penny Power.”

Long-time food shelf volunteer Diana Brown helped spearhead the program in 2006 and has been involved ever since. “For many neighbors in need, adding fresh produce to their shopping lists in winter in Vermont is a luxury they can seldom afford,” she said. “Even though active food pantries keep nonperishable staples on the shelves, fresh vegetables and fruits are preferred by most visitors and provide the best nutrition.”

How You Can Help

During Harvest for Hunger, every time you choose to round up at the registers or place a donation in the collection boxes, you’re helping put fresh produce on your neighbors’ tables. We are so grateful for your kindness and generosity. This year, just one week into the Woodstock campaign, we’ve already collected over $1,000 in round-up and cash donations. WFM will contribute another $1,000 on top of the total donation amount.

When you purchase a paper bag at the register (10 cents for large bags), you’re also helping support your local food shelfs. In 2016, we introduced our Bring Your Own Bag “BYOB” initiative, with the goal of keeping thousands of discarded paper bags out of our waste stream and environment. All proceeds from the program are donated to the community food shelfs. We started the same program in Waterbury last fall.

We feel so fortunate to live in a place where neighbors care for neighbors. Thank you for embracing the spirit of giving this holiday season, and for being the wonderful community that you are.

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