Our goal is to ensure that more high quality, sustainably-produced local food is available to all who live in Vermont. We use outreach, research and policy to build relationships between farms and food-insecure Vermonters, give farmers resources to help them work effectively with food access organizations, and identify policy actions to support getting Vermont-produced food to underserved people and communities.
We seek innovative ways for diverse communities to access affordable, fresh, nutritious, locally grown food, and for farmers to be fairly paid for what they provide.
Understanding Food Security Among Resettled Refugees
Center Director Linda Berlin is leading a UVM team of researchers to understand how resettled refugees in Vermont are experiencing access to food.
She says, "... the goal of food access work is not just to make sure that people have access to calories, but to make sure that people can eat a healthy diet - fresh fruits and vegetables, complete proteins, and whole grains. From this point of view, we want to help all people - including recent arrivals - to know that they and their families deserve healthy food, and that there is help available to achieve that."
Community Food Security among New American Farmers & Gardeners
The Center is part of a three-year project investigating ways to build community food security among resettled refugee farmers and gardeners. Read about Extending the Season for Vermont's Resettled Refugee Farmers and Gardeners, or in this recent newsletter article: What Can Work on Community Food Security Look Like in Vermont?
Understanding Farm-to-School Sourcing in Vermont
Schools (and other institutions) are important sources of healthy food for their students, and can also be a significant market for local farmers. Center Director Linda Berlin and several UVM graduate students support Vermont's farm-to-school efforts by participating in the Vermont Farm to School statewide network devoted to this work.
Research: Farmers and Food Access
We seek to identify opportunities to increase access to healthy food for all Vermonters while developing the market for Vermont farmers.
We believe it is important to know how and why Vermont farmers contribute to alleviating food insecurity in the state. How are farmers measuring the economic impact of their discounts, donations and other efforts? What information are they collecting? Are their practices sustainable? This information is used to develop programing that helps farmers help their communities more effectively.
In 2012, Rachel Schattman published the Farmers & Food Access Research brief that looked at the "double bind" facing farmers as they seek fair compensation for their labor and products, while often seeking to keep their prices accessible.
In it, Dr. Schattman noted, "Hunger and food insecurity are on the rise. The USDA recently released a report indicating that 13.6% of Vermonters are food insecure (up from 9.6% in 2004-2006) and 6.2% are hungry (“very low food security”) compared to the national averages of 13.5% food insecure and 5.2% hungry. (Nord, M., Coleman-Jensen, A., Andrews, M., Carlson, S., 2010) Farmers are uniquely positioned to have a large impact on the health and wellbeing of their neighbors. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, if low income consumers have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, the consumption of these foods increases. This deceivingly simple factor has a positive impact on the health of these consumers, and can contribute to increased food security."
Interested in knowing more about the Center's work or do you have a question we haven't answered here? Contact us via email or 802-656-5459 and we'll do our best to help.