Vermont to replace federal food box program

May 20, 2021 GMT

A new Vermont program will replace a federal food assistance program that started during the coronavirus pandemic to help people in need and is ending in two weeks.

The USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program supplied tens of thousands of food boxes to Vermonters during the peak of the pandemic, mychamplainvalley.com reported.

“A lot of people suffered a pretty big economic shock,” said Vermont Foodbank CEO John Sayles, who estimated the program served one-third of Vermonters. “A lot of those folks, this is the first time that they’ve really had to access things like food assistance.”

Full Plates Vt will start in early June and supply individual boxes of federal emergency assistance food to 19 sites around the state. They will contain a produce, a frozen protein, and shelf-stable items. Beneficiaries will be required to meet an income requirement.

The program starts June 3 and will run through the end of September. People can start registering on Monday on the Vermont Foodbank’s website or by calling 1-833-670-2254.

On Thursday, Vermont lifted the residency requirement for people eligible to get COVID-19 vaccines in the state. Now non-residents ages 12 and older can get vaccinated.

Clinics, including for walk-ins, are listed on the Vermont Health Department website.

They include walk-in clinics being held at nearly 30 Emergency Medical Services stations this weekend that will offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to people ages 18 and older. No appointments are needed.

In other pandemic-related news:

A lawyer for a former Newport business owner who was sued by the state after he refused to wear masks in his store says the state’s emergency statute is unconstitutional.

In March, a judge upheld the state’s mask mandate, and a hearing on potential fines is pending. Orleans Superior Court Judge Mary Miles Teachout has refused to reopen the trial but agreed to hear more legal arguments about her opinion, the Caledonian Record reported.

In a May 13 court filing, Robert Kaplan, a new lawyer for business owner Andre Desautels, wrote that “for anyone under 80 in this state of Vermont, the risk of dying from COVID-19 has proven to be infinitesimally small.” As of May 9, the state reported that 249 people died of COVID-19 in Vermont, with 57% of those deaths in people ages 80 and older, Kaplan wrote.

“Against this backdrop, admittedly viewed through a rear-view mirror, the governor declared for himself extraordinary and unprecedented authority to exercise almost total control over the lives, livelihood and freedoms of all Vermonters,” Kaplan wrote.

Police and the Vermont attorney general’s office had warned Desautels several times to comply with the emergency orders or face being fined. In February, United Parcel Service Inc. severed its relationship with the print shop and package pick-up site, saying it refused to comply with the company’s uniform policy, which includes wearing masks.

Desautels has since moved his business to Derby.

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THE NUMBERS

Vermont reported 33 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday for a statewide total since the pandemic began of over 24,000 cases.

A total of 10 people were hospitalized, with three in intensive care.

The Associated Press is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Vermont did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 74.86 new cases per day on May 4 to 48.14 new cases per day on May 18.