Hardwick committee works to address food insecurity

A committee in Hardwick is working to address food insecurity.
A committee in Hardwick is working to address food insecurity.(WCAX)
Published: Mar. 19, 2023 at 10:08 PM EDT
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HARDWICK, Vt. (WCAX) - One in four people in the state turn to food shelves and meal service programs to keep themselves fed. That’s according to the Vermont Foodbank.

In response to this, one local committee has made it a priority to hear from community members and brainstorm solutions to food insecurity.

The Hardwick Equity Committee invited community members to the Buffalo Market Café to talk about food insecurity and how it plays into our local communities.

This is the committee’s second group discussion with residents. Organizers say they want to be more engaged with people so their committee can make a bigger impact.

“I think at its core with equity you basically talk to the community about what they need. In our community, we feel like poverty is such a huge issue. In most or all communities it’s a big issue. So we felt that the food piece of that was really important for us to get a better sense of how that fits in here,” said Lucian Avery of the Hardwick Equity Committee.

Several residents attended the meeting, some representing food organizations in Hardwick. Others just wanted to be part of the conversation.

People shared their views on food insecurity, discussing food programs in town, solutions to addressing food needs and the effect inflation has had on the community.

John Tuthill is a volunteer at the Hardwick area food pantry. He says over the years, the number of people coming into the food pantry keeps increasing, especially recently.

“You know we don’t have hard data as to why, but we certainly believe that it has to do with inflation. You know the rise in the cost of food, rise in costs of fuel and other essentials would be what is contributing to the increase,” said Tuthill.

The rise in cost is not only affecting residents. The food pantry itself has had to be careful with what they buy for the shelves because community partners have had to up their prices.

“It causes us to be more selective in what we’re purchasing. Fortunately, it hasn’t impacted the amount of that we’re giving out,” said Tuthill.

Tuthill says to save money, the food pantry has tried to buy local food as much as they can.

Residents at the meeting said although there is a struggle, people in Hardwick are working to find a solution.

Some believe the state needs to do something to take away the burden.

“I want the system to change because I think it would be much better for people to be able to go buy their own food that supports businesses like this. You know, we aren’t there,” said Erika Carp of Greensboro.

Organizers say they hope to have more community conversations in the future.