Everyone Eats program funding running dry
BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (WCAX) - A Vermont program called Everyone Eats has helped struggling restaurants during the pandemic to feed those with the greatest need. As stimulus talks continue in Washington that would provide much-needed relief, funding for the initiative is about to run out.
“The number of people that are walking through the doors and the number of calls that are coming in, I wouldn’t be able to survive,” said Laura Sage, the owner of Delightfully Delicious. The Brattleboro eatery has been pumping out 300 meals a week, at $10 each. The $6 million Cares Act program covers the cost so hungry people can eat for free. “It helps the community and it helps the business owners.”
A couple of miles up the interstate, The Putney General Store got some of the Everyone Eats stimulus around the Thanksgiving holiday as cases were spiking again. “Now we are in this new period where it is getting beyond what it was originally,” said store owner Mike Cosco.
He says it’s the restaurants that have been hit the hardest during the pandemic. Our interview was interrupted briefly by another local business owner. “Kate is actually, she is Putney Winery, just up the road. So, we stay in touch with each other and just trying to stay afloat until this is over,” Cosco said.
About 100 restaurants across Vermont have participated in the program, serving an estimated half a million meals. It ends at the end of the month. “It is going to be hard after December 30th,” said Gary Holloway with Vt. the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. He is hopeful for another round of funding, but in the meantime, he is encouraging people in need to look into other statewide options. “3SquaresVT, and they are accessing other food programs so that they are not going to find themselves hungry.”
Back at Delightfully Delicious, the food keeps cooking, at least for now. “I’m not really ready to retire yet and I know my employees are not yet ready to be looking for other work,” Sage said.
Governor Phil Scott Tuesday said he is cautiously optimistic that Congress can work out a new stimulus deal in the next couple of weeks.
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