Using $4.27 million in emergency funds, the Everyone Eats program is being extended until Sept. 20.

Steve Geller, executive director of Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA), said Thursday that while the state of emergency Gov. Phil Scott declared in March 2020 has ended, fallout from the coronavirus pandemic remains in the form of working people struggling to buy food.

Everyone Eats is a program borne of the pandemic, aimed at helping restaurants and food producers as well as those in need of meals. Since December, the program has been funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“It’s FEMA reimbursement funds that gradually replace the original CARES Act money we got to start the program,” said Geller. “The FEMA money has well outpaced the money we got from the CARES Act, so it’s been a godsend to have that FEMA support.”

SEVCA is the community action group tapped by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development to coordinate the program. Geller said SEVCA works with groups all across the state to deliver meals. Those groups, in turn, work with other local partners.

All told, according to Geller, the program has used over $21 million.

Under the new agreement with FEMA, the program will be phased out, offering 80% of its baseline in July, 60% in August, and 50% in September.

In Rutland County, the coordinating group is Vermont Farmers Food Center. Information about the program can be found at vermontfarmersfoodcenter.org/everyoneeats, the group’s website.

Everyone Eats will continue in Washington County as well. Information about the program and how to use it or donate to it can be found at capstonevt.org, Capstone’s website. The program itself has a website, vteveryoneeats.org, which has information as well.

According to a release from Capstone Community Action, it was expected that the program would end June 30.

“It’s been nearly a full year since the Everyone Eats program began,” stated Sue Minter, executive director of Capstone. “With the steadfast dedication and collaboration of our 27 key community partners including ShiftMeals, we’re pleased to continue supporting priority populations and some of Vermont’s most vulnerable community members.”

She praised the state and FEMA for continuing the program.

“It’s truly a win for all of those involved. With the generous funding provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Central Vermont hub is empowered to carry on its success. The Everyone Eats program has proven itself as a benefit to community members as the Central Vermont hub distributed over 108,000 meals in Washington, Lamoille, and Orange Counties from (Jan. 25 to June 27).”

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