During the month of February, we want to highlight aspects of the Food Access Network (FAN). This week, we interviewed Julia MacGibeny, the Access Center Manager and Susanna Penfield, the Chittenden County Food Access Coordinator to learn more their insights about the program and its many benefits!
The Food Access Network provides many services across the Champlain Valley but we want to highlight the Stay-at-Home program that Julia and Susanna both take part in. “In collaboration with community partners, the Food Access Network and its online ordering site, PantrySoft, provides groceries, meals and household items to homes and food access sites throughout the Champlain Valley” says Julia. Deliveries are made throughout the Champlain Valley and Susanna is in charge of delivering to families and individuals in Chittenden County. She delivers to around “300 people during a normal month but other times, it could be less as people order food as they need it.” The Stay-at-Home program has been highly touted by its recipients for getting food and meals right at their doorstep with no hassle or fuss: “We provide a service that is much needed in the community. We give food to people who aren’t able to access the Food Access Center on North Winooski and we also provide free deliveries right to their home. We hope to continue to grow out the program so we can help more people where they’re at” says Susanna. We asked Julia how much food people get and she said “folks can get as much food as they want! It different for each household and the hope is that they’re getting as much food as they need and they make the decision on how much that is. Most often, folks receive enough to last two weeks”. We asked them what they think on where the program will go and both are hopeful that there will be continued growth in the coming years and hopefully expand to other counties in Vermont. The work they do serve to impact the communities they deliver to along with spreading the good news of Feeding Chittenden through word of mouth or seeing the truck in their neighborhood.
Currently this program is limited to select people such as older adults and people with disabilities. We hope to expand the program further in the future but in the meantime, stay tuned for more updates about the Food Access Network!