Feeding the Community a Focus of Recent VEC Community Fund Grants

Community Fund Grants

Johnson, VT – Two organizations focused on reducing hunger in northern Vermont – the Johnson Food Shelf and a mobile food effort in the Northeast Kingdom known as the Lunchbox - were awarded grants recently by the Vermont Electric Co-op’s Community Fund.

“This could not have come at a better time,” said Dorigen Keeney, a volunteer at the Johnson Food Shelf. “The funds allow us to purchase staples for our community from local sources during these challenging times so we and the Co-op are supporting local families and businesses as well,” she said. “We have seen an immediate increase in the need for food which we expect will persist for some time as people continue to be out of work and using up their available resources.”

Charlie Van Winkle, VEC board member and chair of the Community Fund committee, said he was very pleased the fund was able to support efforts to directly reduce hunger in the region, a challenge that’s been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If, as a VEC member, you have not yet supported the Community Fund, now is a great time,” he said, noting the increased economic stresses facing the co-op community. “The more members we have chipping in, even with small donations, the more the fund can do,” he said.

Details of the grants are as follows:

  • The grant to Johnson Food Shelf went to the direct purchase of food. The Johnson Food Shelf provides free food to people living in Johnson, Eden, N. Hyde Park, Waterville and Belvidere and is open Tuesdays (9-12 noon), Wednesdays (4-6 pm) and Fridays (9-12 noon).
  • The grant to support “The Lunchbox,” a Green Mountain Farm-to-School initiative, will go to purchase more to-go containers for the curbside food drop-off efforts required because of the pandemic, as well as develop new meal routes. The Lunchbox – which takes the form of a simple, white food truck - provides free summer meals for kids 18 and under, thanks to the USDA Summer Food Service Program and a partnership with the Abbey Group Food Service. In 2019, the Lunchbox provided 3,219 free, healthy, local meals to children and teens, representing a 76 percent increase over 2018.

A third grant was also awarded to the Northwoods Stewardship Center to increase the number of solar panels on the center’s property.

The VEC Community Fund is a voluntary program supported by VEC members who choose round up their electric bills, donate their patronage capital dollars, or make one-time donations to the fund. The fund then makes grants to local organizations that support economic security, energy education, emergency and disaster relief, and community development.

Applications for the Community Fund are on a rolling basis, and grants are issued quarterly. If you know an organization that could benefit from the support of the Community Fund, or you want to support the fund yourself, you can learn more here: https://www.vermontelectric.coop/community-resources/community-fund or call VEC Member Services at 802-635-2331 or 800-832-2667.