Food Shelves see drop in contributionsTweet
Burlington Free Press-october 10, 2012
Burlignton-Food drives and dropping off turkeys won’t fill a gap that has developed because Vermont’s allotment from the Emergency Food Assistance Program has shrunk by 50 percent in the past year, says John Sayles, Vermont Foodbank CEO.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) traditionally supplied a significant percentage of the basic foods — meat and vegetables — the foodbank distributed to 270 foods shelves, meal sites, shelters, senior centers and after-school programs in Vermont.
Now the foodbank is struggling to make up for 1.2 million pounds of food that the surplus commodities program used to provide, Sayles said Tuesday. The shrinkage is caused in part because the U.S. Department of Agriculture hasn’t needed to support many agricultural markets as much as in the past by buying produce, meat, cheese and other products.
“One month all we got from TEFAP was tomato sauce,” Sayles said.
Rob Meehan, director of the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf, said his agency has come up 500,000 pounds short because of the cutback in the Emergency Food Assistance Program and fewer donations from the public, grocery stores and eateries.
“We have had to go in the red as far as our budget,” Meehan said. As he looks at the possibility of other cuts to nutrition programs, which would drive more people to the food shelf, Meehan said, “I’m worried about this year.”
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., called the federal cutbacks unconscionable. He warned of other potential cuts because the House and Senate disagree about provisions in a farm bill. At risk are funding for food stamps, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, the School Lunch Program and the Summer Food Service Program.
“I will do my best in the lame-duck session to make sure all nutrition programs are funded,” Sanders said, referring to the term when Congress meets after the November election.
Sanders added, “The solution is, we have all got to come together. We have to say no one should go hungry in Vermont, in America.”
Contact Nancy Remsen at 578-5685 or . Follow Nancy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/nancybfp.