March 9, 2021
Faces of Feeding Chittenden: Edi Abeneto

Edi is our grocery distribution coordinator, and if you’ve ever been to Feeding Chittenden, you likely recognize him. He’s been working at Feeding Chittenden for 13 years! 

Edi believes in the work done at Feeding Chittenden because he sees how hunger impacts all parts of individuals’ lives. He says, “ if we had zero hunger in Chittenden County, it would have a big impact on Everything. Economically, people will improve their lives (if they are food secure). If kids don’t eat, they can’t focus on school and be healthy. So that’s why I say it’s very important– because without food you can’t do anything. It has a big impact on our economy, our whole community.”

Edi works hard not only to make sure everyone has food, but also to make sure that it’s the right food for their lifestyles, diets, and cultures. Since the start of Covid-19, he has been extra committed to getting visitors all the items they need in the pre-packed boxes we distribute. He also speaks five languages, which helps him effectively communicate with many visitors about the culturally-appropriate foods they need. Edi says, “I know a lot of people, and most of the people I serve here.. We have that connection. We’ll have interactions and they’ll tell me when I’m serving them, ‘you may include this,’ or ‘we need this,’ or ‘we have a special diet.’ And a lot of immigrants, they will suggest ‘okay, we need some food from our culture.’”

Edi first started working at Feeding Chittenden as an interpreter not long after his arrival in the US in 2004 as a refugee from the Congo. He heard from a friend about the job at Feeding Chittenden (then called the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf) and was immediately interested because, he says, “food is my passion.” And, being a speaker of English, Swahili, French, Kirundi, and Lingala, Edi was perfect for the job of communicating with a diverse population about their grocery needs. 

Edi has “a passion and energy for serving his community” that he found long before he started working at Feeding Chittenden. He was a volunteer with a sector of the UN’s World Food Programme when he was living at a refugee camp in Tanzania. In this role, he helped to distribute food to students in need of assistance. He says that he still thinks often of his life in the Congo and his time volunteering at the refugee camp when he distributes groceries at Feeding Chittenden. His memories of food insecurity in his home country give him the “passion and energy” to fight the same issue here, in Chittenden county. Edi is an essential member of the Feeding Chittenden team, and we’re so lucky to have him!