Op/Ed

Jan Demers: Pulling against poverty; pushing away hunger

“I hungry, Gamma”, said my two-year-old granddaughter. I would rend heaven and earth to make sure she had something to eat. And it was easily done with good options. Still, my heart stopped when I heard her words.
Vermont is in a struggle to feed 4,619 children verbalizing the same words, “I’m hungry,” because the Federal Nutrition Services proposed a rule on July 24, to close the broad-based categorical eligibility that presently allows children up to 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level to receive benefits. That affects 5,204 households in Vermont.
This is a proposed rule. We have until Sept. 23 to learn about its effects and to comment on the way it would change the lives of Vermont children. The Vermont Department of Children and Families is leading the advocacy effort for all our children.
We have been pulling against poverty for all of history. At CVOEO we are in our third year of an event called Pull Against Poverty. The Pull Against Poverty is a tug-of-war event to feed hungry families that just happens to be a lot of fun. The event takes place at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, on the lawn of the First United Methodist Church on Buell Street in Burlington. CVOEO Weatherization will have a team as will the Green Mountain Roller Derby. The Pull Against Poverty calls attention to our work and raises funds for the Good Food Truck.
The Good Food Truck brings free meals to our hungry and food insecure neighbors using a 16-foot food truck that is fully equipped to cook and serve meals on the road. In 2018, this pink and green giant served over 6,200 free nutritious meals to families who have less access to healthy food. Most meals are served in the summer when schools are closed and school meals are not available to kids.
Emmet Mosley is the manager of the Good Food Truck. “One of my first service days at Harbor Place I talked to a young single mom with three children. She was a little timid, asking how many meals she could take. When I told her she could have as many as she needed, I could sense the relief in her face and tone of voice. She relaxed and said “thanks so much, I usually just eat what’s left-over after my kids eat.” Because Vermont farmers donated produce, I was able to provide this woman and her children with a healthy fresh meal, loaded with seasonal vegetables. I saw her again every week for the rest of the summer.”
As we pull, I think of how much energy it takes to keep going forward instead of sinking into despair knowing that humankind is in the balance. Whether it is commenting on a rule that would take food from Vermont families, or fundraising to get food into the homes of vulnerable Vermonters, or scooping up your granddaughter in your arms and finding something good to eat: we all can do something positive because …
“No one … Nowhere … At no time … Should go hungry.” — Ed Asner
Jan Demers is the Executive Director of CVOEO.

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