Round up your totals at the registers November 14 – 20. The Co-op will match your donation and pass it along to local food shelves CVOEO and HOPE
Here are the facts: One in 5 children in Addison County knows hunger. Over 3,500 Addison County residents participate in the 3Squares VT program. There are more than 20 summer meal sites in Addison County. Senior meal sites serve our older citizens several times a week all summer long. This is a reality that our local Food Shelves, CVOEO and HOPE, confront every day.
These are the facts, but the stories of the people behind the statistics and the people who try to help them meet and overcome their challenges are even more impactful. During the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to spend the day at both CVOEO and HOPE, helping their clients learn more about and enroll in our Food For All Program. On both of those days, I witnessed a sampling of the hardship and the heroism that is the reality for so many Vermonters and the staff of the non-profits that exist to serve them. During my time at CVOEO, I met an elderly woman who had arrived in tears, because it was cold and her heat had been turned off. A CVOEO staff spent an hour negotiating with the fuel company and heating assistance programs to get the heat turned back on. That same woman left in tears of relief, and with a full grocery cart. At HOPE, I talked with a couple of men who were homeless. They let me know that their visits to the food shelves were almost daily. HOPE staff did all that they could to ensure that the men got what they needed to make it through another day outside and to counsel them on paths to getting back inside a home. These two organizations are more than just places to fill an empty pantry. They are lifelines.
We asked CVOEO and HOPE to pass along a few facts about their organizations, to help us better understand how they serve our community:
Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO)
CVOEO is a nonprofit corporation that was formed in 1965 as a result of President Johnson’s War on Poverty and the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. CVOEO serves the counties of Addison, Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand Isle. Fifty-four years later, Addison Community Action/ CVOEO continues to wage war on poverty. Our mission is to address fundamental issues of economic, social and racial justice and to work with people to achieve independence. We bridge gaps and build futures by providing individuals and families with basic needs of food, fuel, and housing support in times of crisis through our food shelf, crisis fuel programs, and our housing advocacy work. We assist families and individuals to achieve the necessary education, financial skills, and assets to build a stable future. We serve several hundred people a month for these various services and we always strive to understand the whole story and where other services might be helpful. ACA / CVOEO has a small but dedicated staff whose longevity contributes to our success. Addison Community Action is located at 54 Creek Road in Middlebury in the old Gailer School building. We can be reached at 802-3882285 or on the web at cvoeo.org. Better yet, drop in to visit and meet our staff!
Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects (HOPE)
Founded in 1964 as Addison County Community Action Group, HOPE’s mission is “to work with low-income individuals in Addison County to identify and secure the tools and resources needed in order for them to meet their own basic needs.” Rather than having to say “this is what we do,” we sit down with people and ask “what do you need?” Our current programs include financial assistance with heat, housing, medical and dental needs, job-related needs, and more. We provide ssistance with budgeting and money management, and representative payee services for those who are at high risk of homelessness due to the inability to manage their finances. HOPE operates a large charity resale store that provides basic goods for free to eligible households who are unable to afford them; provides training in basic employability skills, and diverts hundreds of tons of textiles and other materials from the landfill each year. The shop is open to the general public, and profits from sales are used to support our poverty relief work. HOPE operates one of the largest food shelves in Vermont. We have a large, thriving farm salvage program, which allows us to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to those who cannot afford to purchase them. Last year we distributed over 36,000lbs of food from local farms and food producers; this is available at HOPE and is also shared with many other charitable food sites. We offer cooking classes and information on how to prepare healthy meals on a tight budget. We are greatly assisted in the food shelf by a group of dedicated volunteers. In 2018 HOPE served a total of 3,065 unduplicated individuals in 1,345 households. There were 3,516 visits to our food shelf, for a duplicated service count of 8,063. Of the total people we served last year, 7% were elderly, 32% were children. 63% were employed, 18% were disabled. Only 7% had a housing subsidy, and less than 25% were receiving food stamps. Visit www.hope-vt.org or call 802-388-3608
Rally Every Time You Shop! When not featuring a specific non-profit, donations are given to Addison County Food Shelves