Addressing Food Insecurity in Bennington County

In spring 2019, Bennington College was awarded $1 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to launch a three-year collaborative effort with local partners to address the systemic causes of food insecurity in Bennington County.

Food insecurity—the inability to access affordable, nutritious food—affects one in eight Americans, or approximately 40 million people, and is particularly acute in southern Vermont. This collaboration aims to both address the pressing problem of food insecurity in the area and to develop an interdisciplinary and responsive humanities curriculum with students, faculty, and the community, creating a model from which other higher education institutions can learn and build.

Postponed—Bennington Food Summit on Relocalization

As the situation around COVID-19 continues to unfold, the College's top priority remains the health and wellbeing of our campus community. As a preventative measure to protect both our on- and off-campus communities, the College is canceling or rescheduling all campus events previously listed as "open to the public,” including the Bennington Food Summit on Relocalization

This event has been postponed and will be rescheduled in Fall 2020.

Spring 2020 Courses

Action Research Lab for Food Sovereignty
Food and Politics: A Food Citizens Methodology Workshop
Resilience and Food Access in Bennington, VT

Partners

Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services (GBICS) is a community-based nonprofit organization working with people who live in or near poverty in Bennington County. GBICS runs Kitchen Cupboard, a food distribution program that serves over 1,300 families in Bennington (one in four) per year.

Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union is a public school district serving approximately 3,000 students from prekindergarten through high school in the towns of Bennington, Pownal, Shaftsbury, and Woodford. SVSU provides free breakfast and lunch to all students.

Southwestern Vermont Health Care is an integrated medical health system that includes Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), a 99-bed community hospital in Bennington. SVMC is committed to addressing acute issues of food insecurity through programs including Prescriptions for Food, Grateful Hearts, and the Healthcare Shares/CSA Program.    

Advisory Board

Tatiana Abatemarco
Bennington College

Sue Andrews
Executive Director, GBICS

Shannon Barsotti
Community Development Director, Town of Bennington

Laura Boudreau
SVSU Assistant Superintendent

Chris Callahan
Extension Associate Professor: Agricultural Engineering, UVM Extension

Don Campbell
Regional Director, VT Land Trust

Brian Campion
Director of Public Policy Programs, CAPA; VT State Senator

Kristi Cross DNP, RN
Director of Bennington Blueprint, SVMC

Bill Colvin
Program Director/Community and Economic Development, Bennington County Regional Commission

Alex Dery Snider
Director of Communications, Bennington College

Stephanie Gates SNS
Director, Food Service SVSU

Ben Hall
Bennington College Faculty

Megan Herrington
Bennington Regional Director, Vermont Department of Health

Yoko Inoue
Bennington College Faculty, Visual Arts/CAPA

Andrea Malinowski
Program Manager, RiseVT

Maureen O’Neil SNS
Director, Abbey Food Service

Isabel Roche
Interim President, Bennington College

Susan Sgorbati
Director, CAPA, Bennington College

Jim Sullivan
Director, Bennington County Regional Commission

Anne Thompson
Curator, Bennington College

Tiffany Tobin
Director, Hospitality Services, SVHC

James Trimarchi
Director of Planning, SVHC

Grace Winslow
Bennington County Head Start and Early Head Start Health Manager

APPLICATION: Community Resource Fund

 Applications for the next cycle of the Community Resource and Strategy Fund will be accepted beginning on September 15, 2020.

The Community Resource Fund seeks applications for implementing catalyzing, collaborative projects that further our understanding of local food systems and leverages innovative solutions to address food insecurity in Bennington County. Projects can involve—but are not limited to—data analysis; research; amplifying existing projects in the community; designing new models or structures for implementation; and/or business development.

Learn about the 2020 Community Resource Fund grantees

News and Updates

June 2020

Gardens for Residents at Willow Brook and Beech Court

Erin McKenney, director of the Robert Frost Stone House Museum at Bennington College; faculty member Tatiana Abatemarco; and Lindsay Vajda, Public Housing Program Director at the Bennington Housing Authority dropped off tools and plants, so residents at Willow Brook and Beech Court can grow their own gardens at these apartments.

Grow a Row

Bennington College and the Robert Frost Stone House Museum invite all gardeners in the Bennington area to grow an extra row of vegetables this summer to help feed the community.

Produce can be dropped off at the Robert Frost Stone House Museum on Tuesdays from 9:00 am-6:00 pm for distribution to local food pantries. If you're interested in participating in this program, please email capa@bennington.edu

Drop-off information:
Robert Frost Stone House Museum
121 Historic Route 7A
Shaftsbury, VT 05262

Drop-off will be at the smaller red screened in barn building on the Stone House grounds. There are a couple of parking spaces located across the path from the barn for ease of drop-off.

May 2020

Resilience Gardening in Bennington

Faculty member Tatiana Abatemarco and Robert Frost Stone House Museum Director Erin McKenny hosted a panel discussion on home gardening for resilience, featuring some of our community's expert gardeners who answered questions on everything from keeping plants healthy to saving seeds, and much more. They also discussed the Grow a Row campaign, which invites local gardeners to grow an extra row of vegetables to donate to families in need. Watch the recorded panel

April 2020

Local Farmers Respond to COVID-19

Faculty member Tatiana Abatemarco and Robert Frost Stone House Museum Director Erin McKenny hosted a panel discussion with Lisa MacDougall of Mighty Food Farm, Jesse Pyles of Smokey House, and Jesse McDougall of Studio Hill Farm regarding the specific actions being taken in the Bennington region to maintain a robust local food supply during the pandemic and beyond. Watch the recorded panel

March 2020

Postponed—Bennington Food Summit on Relocalization

As the situation around COVID-19 continues to unfold, the College's top priority remains the health and wellbeing of our campus community. As a preventative measure to protect both our on- and off-campus communities, the College is canceling or rescheduling all campus events previously listed as "open to the public,” including the Bennington Food Summit on Relocalization

This event has been postponed and will be rescheduled in Fall 2020.

Food Insecurity Coverage

March 12: 7 Ways Bennington College’s Food Service Team is Taking Single-Use Plastics Off the Menu (Food Management)

February 2020

This month, join us for the following community events:

As a capstone to Susan Sgorbati's Understanding Food Insecurity in Bennington County course, students shared final presentations exploring local economies, food justice, sustainable agriculture practices, and more.

Food Insecurity Coverage

February 5: Southwestern Vermont Medical Center Prepares Gleaned Surplus Food into Meals for Feeding the Hungry (Food Management)

January 2020

$15,000 Awarded to Community Resource Fund Grant Recipients

Bennington College has awarded three grants of $5,000 each to implement and support community-proposed initiatives that explore and expand food systems in Bennington county. 

Project proposals from Willy’s Variety StoreShires Housing, and Project Against Violent Encounters (PAVE) were selected among applications from community members to Bennington College’s Community Resource and Strategy Fund. This fund supports catalyzing, collaborative projects that further understanding of local food systems and leverage innovative solutions to address food insecurity in Bennington County. 

 Applications for the next cycle of the Community Resource and Strategy Fund will be accepted beginning on September 15, 2020.

Food Insecurity Coverage

January 12: Bennington College Works with Community to Fight Food Insecurity (Bennington Banner)
January 9: $15,000 Awarded to Local Organizations Addressing Food Insecurity in Bennington County (Bennington College)

December 2019

Food Insecurity Coverage

December 6, 2019: Shopping Locally Helps Bennington College Get Plastics Off the Menu (Bennington Banner)
November 29, 2019: A Lot More Than Soup Went Into These Bowls (Brattleboro Reformer)
November 24, 2019: Letter: Thanks for the Success of Empty Bowls Supper (Bennington Banner)

November 2019

This month, join us for the following community events:

Save the Date:

  • April 24-25, 2020: Regional food summit, led by CAPA and the Bennington Regional Planning Commission, consisting of trainings, workshops, panels and networking.

Food Insecurity Coverage

November 15: Shaping Bowls, Forming Community (Bennington College)
November 8, 2019: Hunger Council, CAPA Eye New Food Security Initiatives (Bennington Banner)
October 27, 2019: Many Hands Help Shape Empty Bowls for Annual Event (Bennington Banner)

October 2019

Save the date for the following community events:

Food Insecurity Coverage

October 9, 2019: Food Insecurity Work Moving Forward at Bennington College (Bennington Banner)
October 4, 2019: Bennington College Starting New Population Health Fellowship with SVMC (Bennington Banner)

September 2019

Save the date for the following community events:

The Community Resource Fund is now seeking applications for implementing catalyzing, collaborative projects that further our understanding of local food systems and leverages innovative solutions to address food insecurity in Bennington County. Apply by October 15.

At Bennington College, Fall term courses in food insecurity research have begun, including:

If you are a researcher or activist working to address food insecurity in Bennington County and are interested in connecting with this cohort of partners, please reach out to Susan Sgorbati.

Past Updates

July 25, 2019: Bennington College to Provide Free Summer Meals (Bennington Banner)
June 21, 2019: A Collective Approach to Addressing Hunger in Bennington County (Vermont Public Radio)
June 10, 2019: Bennington College to Explore Local Food Insecurity (WAMC)
May 28, 2019: $1 Million Awarded to Address Systemic Causes of Food Insecurity (Press release)

Questions about the project?

Contact: 
capa@bennington.edu

For Media Inquiries

Contact: 
Alex Dery Snider, Director of Media Relations and Public Affairs
mediarelations@bennington.edu