Our little Creamery is located in Websterville, Vermont, a small town situated in the heart of the state and surrounded by idyllic rolling green hills dotted with red barns. Down the road from us (incidentally at the perfect turnaround point if you’re having a socially distant walking meeting) is our favorite neighbor, the Vermont Foodbank.
We’ve had a long-standing relationship with them, and hold deep respect for the heroic work they’ve done this year in particular – a season of economic devastation for so many families in Vermont, across the country, and around the world. We regularly send any excess product to them, enabling them to share it across their network with local food shelves and distribution centers. And being located so close, our team enjoys volunteering for the Foodbank – picking apples, packing weekend food bags for local students, and more.
The Vermont Foodbank is just one organization that is doing the work to not only put essential food on tables, but to further ensure it is nourishing to both body and spirit. Their work continually reminds us of the connection we share with each other through food.
We Believe Food is not only Functional – it is the Connective Tissue that Brings Us Together.
The act of eating is one we all share, whether in its simplest form as a quick espresso and cookie break with a colleague or as an elaborate Saturday night dinner party. In a year where our gatherings have been curtailed, food has prevailed, with Zoom wine and cheese tastings, socially distanced backyard bonfires with takeout, and sourdough beauty shots shared across the internet. Food continues to be the great convener, bringing us together to share much-needed conversation, bonding us over screens as we swap recipes and kitchen hacks, and broadening our circles of care as we make sure those who can’t afford a meal can still partake.
And Food Belongs to All of Us, Regardless of Who We Are
Yet it’s not always accessible to everyone. This year as we enter the holidays, we’re eager to dive into the much-needed comfort of recipes passed down through generations and homemade celebrations. And we are equally aware that not everyone has the privilege of a paycheck this year, with some industries being hit harder than others by COVID’s fateful fist. This year more than ever we feel the responsibility to care for those around us, and to do it in the way we know best – by sharing food.
In the spirit of sharing the comfort that a good meal can bring, and as a reminder that we are all in this together, we’re happy to share our favorite ideas for how to share the power of food with our neighbors in need this holiday season.
8 Ways to Share the Power of Good Food This Holiday Season
1. Gift Cards from Restaurants
Food service workers have been hit particularly hard during this pandemic, and restaurants employing thousands of staff really need our help. While takeout is an amazing way to support our local restaurants and feed ourselves, buying gift cards helps the gift go even further. Consider gifting gift cards to your friends and family, and purchasing a few extras to hand out to those who could use a little help this year.
2. Confidentially Cooking for Others
There is a social media post circulating that embodies the power of one person helping one person. In it, people are offering to cook a meal for someone in need, and to do so confidentially. Here is one example:
“We are now a solid 8 months into this. If you are not working/not getting a paycheck/struggling to make ends meet and run out of food or necessities...please don’t let yourself or your kids go to sleep with an empty stomach. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to send me a private message. I am more than happy to help. I will drop off and go, or order for delivery. No one has to know and I will pretend it never happened. What's understood never has to be explained.“
It is a simple act of care – of extending an offer in a moment of need – that can make a world of difference to the recipient, both in practical help and also in moral support. And as the giver, the impact of one meal in dollars might be small, yet the impact of helping a neighbor is significant.
3. Reverse Advent Calendar with the Kids
Who else feels the weighty responsibility of growing little human beings into caring and responsible citizens? If you're raising your hand, you're not alone. We love the idea of helping our kids experience the gift of giving all December long as they count down to the holiday they celebrate.
Here’s the idea: get a large box and overstock your pantry. Each day allow your kids select items to put into the box, including cans and boxes of non-perishable food. If you celebrate Christmas, the day before is a great time to make it a family activity to bring it to your local donation center.
4. Double your Dinner and Drop one at the Homeless Shelter
Your local homeless shelter is likely always in need of the extra support, especially as their beds become fuller with the cold weather. Consider making two of your meal and dropping one at the local homeless shelter. Lasagna, macaroni and cheese, or casserole in a disposable foil pan are easy options that feed a crowd. If you’re feeling ambitious, add a side salad, fresh baked cookies, or a bag of rolls. Dinner will taste even better knowing someone across town is enjoying the same dish.
5. Make Your Dollars Go Further with Food Banks
One of the most effective ways to amplify your impact is with your local food bank. These are the organizations across our country that have been doing the work and have seemingly magical powers to stretch a dollar into several meals. They take many forms, but in all cases are essential to supporting the communities in which they operate.
In our community, the Vermont Foodbank can provide five meals for three dollars, largely due to their network of relationships and efficiencies in collecting, storing, and allocating food. If you're looking to make your money go the furthest, consider a donation to your local food bank. Find your local food bank here.
6. Food Drives at Work
True story: on a recent video update from our Director of Finance, Matt, he stacked a pyramid of cans for our company food drive and challenged anyone to make a taller one. Of course Rick, our Director of Operations, was up to the challenge. The result was a carload of food for a local organization. Why not make giving food into a healthy competition this year?
7. Find a Local Tech-Enabled Giving Group
Facebook and other local marketplace platforms have helped millions of people connect those who want to give with those who are in need within local communities. It’s an awesome way to ensure your impact stays local and bolsters the community in which you live. We’ve also seen examples of this network extending to helping deliver groceries for parents in need who also have a hard time taking their children to the store during COVID.
Another great organization we’ve recently tuned into is the Buy Nothing Project, which has chapters across the country, enabling a world-wide network of hyper-local gift economies. Never underestimate the impact of many small gifts combined into a groundswell of neighborly giving.
8. Business for Good
We may be a tiny company, but we believe in the power of business for good, and we love seeing the business community coming together to support hunger relief.
As we do our holiday shopping this year many of our favorite online retailers have offered the option to donate or “round up” at checkout. We love this idea because it helps make giving a regular practice instead of an isolated event where we “check the box.” It’s rather painless to opt in at checkout … and imagine what it would look like if all of us made a practice of saying, “yes.”
We also feel privileged to have our personal donations matched by our company. This year hunger relief was one of the focuses of our annual giving campaign, and we matched donations to non-profits related to that effort. In particular, we appreciate the work of Feeding America at a national level, as they have massive reach and are able to help food banks across the country.
This holiday season, food is a powerful reminder of how we are tethered together in this shared world, and of all that we have in common. We hope that as we all make great food a centerpiece of our holiday celebrations that we also take time to give a gift of nourishment to someone in need.
Kate leads the marketing team at Vermont Creamery, and in her spare time can be found cooking for her family with Vermont's finest local ingredients, exploring the local craft beverage scene, and trail running in the local mountains.