Greens, Tomato Sandwiches & Food Insecurity


By: Sarah Alexander, Gleaning & Food Rescue Program Coordinator

Transportation. Housing. Child care. Low wages. The cost of fresh food. All of these challenges contribute to the food insecurity crisis in Vermont.

Recent surveys show that 13% of all Vermonters and 17% of Vermont children are food insecure. That’s one in seven Vermonters struggling to find consistent and nutritious meals at some point each year.

The Intervale Center’s Gleaning & Food Rescue Program is one of many local initiatives working to make sure more Vermonters have dignified access to fresh, healthy food that they can afford. This program works with volunteers, community organizations and farms to harvest fresh food that would otherwise go to waste and distribute it to community members in need. This year, the program will glean and rescue 50,000 pounds of food and provide it for free to 175 families and 20 social service agencies from July to October in the form of a “Fair Share,” which resembles a Community Supported Agriculture share. The Intervale Center also partners with Hunger-Free Vermont, City Market and other organizations to provide educational materials, demonstrations, cooking supplies and spices to individuals and agencies.

Programs like Gleaning & Food Rescue don’t address the root cause of food insecurity. They don’t eliminate poverty and the socio-economic conditions that create it. But it’s clear that they can make a real and lasting difference in the lives of Vermonters. In this spirit, the Intervale Center is working to expand their program to provide more food year-round in dignified, sustainable ways to more families.

One Fair Share member highlights the importance and impact this program has on its families:

What are some of your favorite foods to eat?

I love greens! I have to have greens in my dinner otherwise my life just isn’t complete. And tomato sandwiches in the summer! I also try to preserve vegetables by blanching and freezing them.

What are some of the barriers for you accessing food?

Transportation is a huge issue. It’s a coordination of time, transportation, money and then life circumstances, because things are always changing and if it’s just you, there are more variables.

Do you have a favorite dinner dish that you make for your son?

He really likes cheesy eggs, which is potatoes and eggs and the vegetables and onions and all kinds of stuff.

Do you feel better physically when you eat more fresh produce?

There’s just nothing that beats fresh food. It absolutely makes me feel so much better and I know the food is coming right from the farm!

What has being a Fair Share member meant to you?

I’m just so grateful and I don’t know what I would do without it. This is a huge benefit because it helps feed my family. It’s just that simple.


Abby Portman