Food Insecurity in Vermont
Food insecurity is a big problem all around the country, and Vermont is no different. In 2019 (pre-COVID), Vermont 211 Community Resource Specialists made 174 referrals to Food Pantries, and folks searched our online Community Resource Directory for Food Pantries 1,290 times. During 2020, numbers rose to 612 referrals and 2,117 online searches due to the uncertainties of COVID. The numbers dropped during 2021 - because of federal disaster-related resources - to 270 referrals and 1,335 online searches. However, they did not return to pre-COVID numbers.
First came Little Free Libraries, and then Little Free Pantries!
One innovative solution has been the Little Free Pantry movement - a grassroots solution to an immediate local need. It started in Arkansas in 2015 when someone saw Little Free Libraries and realized that the same concept could be done with food.
These mini food shelves are small, but important, community food sources. People are encouraged to take what they need and/or donate what they can in support of the pantry. Advantages of these tiny resources are that the food is available during hours that food shelves aren’t, that there is no paperwork to fill out, and they are anonymous.
The Vermont 211 Database currently includes 23 Little Free Pantries sponsored by 19 organizations located in 11 of the 14 counties in Vermont.
To see if there’s a Little Free Pantry in your area, you can search our online Community Resource Directory (Vermont 2-1-1 Resource Directory (navigateresources.net) in any of the following ways (remember to enter your ZIP Code to narrow the search):
- In the Category Search under Food Pantries / Food Lines/ Food Vouchers and selecting the term Community Fridges/Food Cabinets
- In the Keyword Search, you can use Community Fridges/Food Cabinets
- In the Agency/Program Name Search, you can use Little Free Pantry (or even just “Free Pantry”)
We realize that we may not yet have every one of Vermont’s Little Free Pantries in our database. So, we are asking for your help to find any that we’ve missed. We hope you know of some in the three counties where we haven’t found any yet – Essex, Franklin, and Orange.
You can search our online directory any time, BUT don’t forget, you can also communicate with one of our trained, professional Community Resource Specialists (CRS):
Telephone 24/7/365 by dialing 2-1-1
Text your ZIP Code to 898211
Monday-Friday 8:00am-10:00pm (a CRS texts back)