The Vermont Department of Health has identified specific strategies for Vermont communities to implement to increase access to healthy food, and provides funding and technical assistance, such as training and sharing best practice, to help support community efforts.
These strategies are to establish:
- A local or regional food policy council,
- Procedures and practices to require healthy food be offered at all municipal venues and events,
- Community farmers markets in underserved areas; ensure the market is accessible to low-SES residents and accepts Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. These cards are similar to a credit card – where monthly food assistance benefit amounts are added each month. Each time the card is used, account balances decrease accordingly. They can be used to buy food at USDA authorized stores and farmers markets.
- Community garden(s) accessible to low-SES residents,
- Local Farm to Plate efforts, particularly regarding produce.
The Vermont Department of Health will continue to support these efforts by providing leadership and expertise on how communities can embed these strategies into all of their planning and development projects and by continuing to identify and share models that work in rural communities.
Vermont Department of Health Office of Local Health staff will work with their community partners throughout the year to move their strategies toward completion, see “Performance Measure: Number of municipal strategies being implemented to increase access to healthy food".