September 9, 2011, Hardwick, VT – Over Labor Day weekend, the Vermont Food Venture Center (VFVC) gathered summer squash from local gardens and shred them for area food pantries. The lightly processed vegetables allows pantries to stock fresh, nutrient rich food for their clients, especially through the winter months, while making use of excess produce in neighbors’ gardens. With the newly built facility, The Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) can continue to support its Food Access programs by providing opportunities for processing through the Vermont Food Venture Center. The VFVC, along with volunteers, shredded, packaged, and froze 448 servings of summer squash. This food was distributed to the pantries in Morrisville, Johnson, and Woodbury, while all other donated vegetables were delivered to the Vermont Foodbank.
The Center for an Agricultural Economy sees this event as the first of many to support their mission to increase access to local food. “Collecting and lightly processing donated summer squash for pantries worked as a great way to initiate important relationships with the area food pantries that really are on the front lines of fighting hunger in our community,” said Annie Rowell, Program Associate at the VFVC responsible for coordinating the event. Ms Rowell will continue to support Food Access and Security through her work with Farm-to-Institution and minimal processing at the VFVC, so that more locally grown food can be incorporated into the immediate community.
“This event highlights one of the roles we envision the VFVC will play in the community – a center for fresh, local fruits and vegetables to be collected and redistributed back into the community in a ready to use form,” explained Monty Fischer, Executive Director of the Center for an Agricultural Economy. Keeping local food affordable and of the highest nutritional quality is no small feat and the VFVC continues to develop and refine processes that make this goal a reality.