Bumper-to-bumper traffic at Rutland County food pickup

Published: Apr. 24, 2020 at 4:17 PM EDT
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The second of five large food distribution events around Vermont was held in Rutland County Friday. After the demand for boxes of MREs at Wednesday's event in Swanton was larger than expected, FEMA quadrupled the amount of food.

"This means everything to us because food is a shortage and a lot of us have not got our stimulus checks because I'm on disability. And this is my friend Gail Manette and she's on disability too, so times are tough," said Linda Corey of Rutland.

The Vermont National Guard along with FEMA and the Vermont Foodbank distributed boxes of the Meals, Ready-to-Eat in North Clarendon.

"It's really a life saver. We're in uncertain times right now and the fact that they are mobilizing and doing all this for us, it really means the world, and it's one less thing I have to worry about for a couple weeks," said Shawn Dayton of Rutland.

By 10 a.m., cars were already lined up about a mile down the road.

"We showed up this morning expecting it to be pretty quiet and there was already a line out the door. We had to come in a different way just so that we could get in here. And people were ready to go as soon as we could get the pallet off the truck," said Vermont National Guard Sgt. Caleb Lews. "Once we saw how busy it was up in Swanton, they immediately ordered tons more food because we doubled what we expected to do. So, today we tripled to quadrupled what we did up there."

By 10:30, the Guard had already given away two truck loads of meals. Guard officials say they were prepared to give away 94,080 meals at the event.

"I saw these orders so I got the opportunity to sign up and I was excited to actually come and do my job and make a difference," said Vermont National Guard PFC Culann Gage. He's based at Camp Ethan Allen and sees this as an opportunity to serve his country here at home. "We've gotten a lot of thank you's and we got some notes, some nice notes from little kids. And I got to talk to a Vietnam veteran for a little bit, that was really cool, it really made it feel like we we're doing something important."

"It's pretty huge. It will alleviate some money so that I can afford gas and stuff and job ventures, and get some great food. And show these guys that their hard work really pays off," said Joshua White of Poultney.

Rutland Mental Health Services was also at the event giving out information about resources as well as bracelets with the messages. "Never give up," and "You're not alone."

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