Important Resources During the COVID-19 Crisis

Posted on March 26, 2020

Keeping our families healthy, nourished, and learning are at the top of all our minds during this unprecedented time. Our schools’ food service staff and teachers are doing an amazing job right now to meet this goal, with the support of the VT Agency of Education, our Congressional delegation and many partners.  Below are a few resources we hope will help while we all navigate this evolving situation together. The essential role that school nutrition plays in our communities and the value of a thriving local food system has never been clearer or appreciated!


SCHOOL MEALS 

School nutrition staff are true heroes in this time of need! They are moving mountains to make sure that all kids in their communities are well nourished during this uncertain time. Our biggest thank you for their swift action and commitment. Vermont districts are working to adapt their school meal distribution models in light of the recent school closures to make sure their students are fed and nourished.

In an effort to keep everyone informed about new and shifting plans, we worked with Hunger Free Vermont to create a database of schools' plans and schedules to distribute meals. We'll be continually updating the resource as needed: 

***If you have updates regarding your district, please contact Vermont FEED Program Director Helen Rortvedt @ [email protected]. To view the spreadsheet in a separate tab, click here.***


FOOD ACCESS

In this stressful time, no one should be concerned about having enough food at home. If your family lost pay, you’ve been laid off, or work hours in your household have been reduced, you may now be eligible for nutrition programs that are designed to help your family and our local economy quickly in unexpected and emergency situations like this one. If you’ve never used any of these food resources before, please know they are there for you too. Hunger Free Vermont has compiled a number of important food resources available to help you and your neighbors @ hungerfreevt.org/coronavirus.

For families who have lost access to meals their children where receiving at childcare: all children 0–18 years old can now receive free meals through your local school district or supervisory union! Dial 2-1-1 for more information, or visit  hungerfreevt.org/coronavirus. Download the flyer to share with families in your community.


EDUCATION

Keeping kids busy, engaged, and learning at home during their time away from school is no small task. We have updated our curricular resources page to include a collection of activities and lessons from the Center for Ecoliteracy that are take-home or virtual-friendly: 

Food & Culture Project - examine the food traditions of the world’s five major continents

Nourishing Students: Enrichment Activities Grades K-5 - enrichment activities engage students in exploring the bounty of fruits and vegetables in after-school, out-of-school, and summer programs. Some of these activities are ready to use right at home with little need for additional materials, using food you have or are receiving through a school meals program. 

Understanding Food and Climate Change: An Interactive Guide - uses video, photography, text, and interactive experiences to help educators, students, and advocates learn how food and climate systems interact and how personal choices can make a difference. Ideal for grades 6–12 and general audiences, with connections to Next Generation Science Standards and the National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies themes, the guide offers activities for student research and resources for further investigation. This guide is also designed to support self-guided and independent study, and is a boon for advocates seeking hopeful strategies and creative responses. This publication is part of a suite of resources from the Center for Ecoliteracy that explore the connections between food systems and climate change. Check out their Understanding Food and Climate Change: A Systems Perspective, which explores the links between food systems and our changing climate with an emphasis on systems thinking.

Starting with Soil - an iPad app from the Center for Ecoliteracy and Whole Kids Foundation that offers a playful, visually rich way to help kids understand that soil is a living system full of fascinating relationships.  Designed for students ages 7-9 and their families, Starting with Soil allows users to plant seeds, build a compost pile, drag a microscope over different organisms in soil to get a better look, and view the symbiosis at work when corn, beans, and squash are planted together, as Native Americans have done for centuries. This requires you to download an app from the Apple Store or Google Play


GARDENS

The Vermont Community Garden Network created a COVID-19 guidelines for safe community gardening that includes safety measures for maintaining your garden, how to stay healthy while sharing gardening tools, and practicing social distancing within your shared gardening spaces.

Educators have been expressing interest in incorporating gardening activities or lessons into remote learning plans, and in Vermont, Farm to School coordinators and educators were able to align with school nutrition staff's meal pick up sites to distribute seed packets to interested families along with student meals. Learn more and get the resources through the Vermont Farm to School Network.


SUPPORT

If you’re wondering what you can personally do right now to maintain a viable regional food supply and support local farmers, NOFA-VT has shared these suggestions: 


Banner photo by Ben Hudson for the Burlington School Food Project.