POULTNEY — The Vermont Farmers Food Center is expanding its Everyone Eats program locally on Wednesday providing an estimated 50 to 60 free meals from the Young at Heart Senior Center.

Everyone Eats is coming to Poultney with the assistance of the Poultney Rotary Club, the town of Poultney, local restaurants and the senior center.

Sarah Pelkey, economic development coordinator for the town of Poultney, said the local Rotary and Young at Heart leaders had been actively looking for new ways to support the community because the pandemic had curtailed some of their usual activities.

“They were really excited and happy to participate in this program,” she said.

Michelle McCarron, site director for Young at Heart and a Rotarian, said the people at the center were “very pleased” to host Everyone Eats.

“We want everyone to know that ‘everyone eats,’ it’s not just for seniors as some of the other programs have been,” she said.

Harry DiPrinzio, the Everyone Eats program manager for the Vermont Farmers Food Center, said the Poultney program was a satellite of a program that is in its fourth week in Rutland. This week, it’s expanding to both Poultney and Chittenden.

The Vermont Farmers Food Center, or VFFC, is one of the recipients of $5 million awarded to Vermont from the CARES Act, to support people affected by the pandemic.

Three times a week, food has been distributed from the VFFC in Rutland which DiPrinzio said had been a “great success.”

“We also wanted to make sure we got these meals out into towns that are a bit farther from here but within Rutland County which was the scope of our proposal (for funding) that we wanted to serve,” he said.

The first Everyone Eats in Poultney will be at the senior center at 206 Furnace St. starting at 5 p.m. The meals will be provided using the drive-through model on a first-come, first-served basis until the meals are all given out.

Participants, driving or on foot, must wear a mask and observe all state precautions against the spread of COVID-19.

There will be only one option for meals with a limited number of vegetarian meals available.

Those picking up meals will need to fill out a short information form at the time of pick-up.

Individuals can pick up one meal per person for each person in their household and may pick up meals for up to three households, including their own.

DiPrinzio pointed out the program was a partnership with local restaurants who got $10 for every meal they provided.

The goal is to provide local people with food and help local restaurants and farmers who have lost revenue because of the pandemic.

McCarron said it was also an opportunity for local seniors to help their neighbors in Poultney.

“They’re a big part of our community and they wanted to offer their building and parking lot as a chance for people of all ages to come and enjoy an opportunity that the state is providing,” she said.

While there is a limit on the number of meals available each week, if there is enough local demand, the program can increase its output.

More information is available online at vermontfarmersfoodcenter.org/everyone_eats

patrick.mcardle

@rutlandherald.com

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