The staff at Killington Resort, along with the Vermont Farmers Food Center and local farmers, assembled and handed out more than 700 bags of fresh, locally-sourced food at Pico Mountain on Thursday during the latest Farm-to-Trunk food giveaway.
Courtney DiFiore, public relations and social media manager for Killington, said the program went back to March, when Vermont declared a state of emergency in order to take steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
With Gov. Phil Scott closing businesses, Killington had a lot of surplus food. Because jobs were lost, there was a greater need for food among the local community.
“From there, it just kept going because we thought it went over so well. ‘Let’s just keep providing food. If there’s a need we might as well fill it since we’re able to do so,’” DiFiore said.
The giveaway on Thursday entirely consisted of locally-sourced food, and DiFiore said it was driven by Mike Solimano, president and general manager at Killington.
“We know that people in our area do need food, but we also know that a lot of the distribution networks for our local farmers are not doing well, or they’re closed because they don’t have events to supply food for anymore, weddings, etc. We knew they needed help as well so we wanted to make sure that we could help two-fold: The community and the farmers that are here in our community supporting the town and everybody,” she said.
On Thursday morning, a group, including Vermont Farmers Food Center (VFFC) staff and volunteers and Killington employees packed the bags with food, including squash, peppers, maple syrup, corn, tomatoes and baguettes that were brought in by the producers who provided it.
Tracy Weatherhogg, who works with the online market at VFFC, called the effort “pretty amazing” as more than 700 bags were packed within two hours.
Weatherhogg said one part of the day that stuck out was a producer from Elmore Mountain Maple Works expressing gratitude that his website had gotten 150 new views on their website and five orders that he believed were generated by the involvement with Killington and VFFC.
By Thursday afternoon, the bags were being put in the trunks of people’s vehicles in order to provide contact-less delivery.
DiFiore said the program had been open to anyone in the Rutland County area who needed help with food for themselves or family.
Greg Cox, VFFC founder, said the Farm-to-Trunk giveaway fit in well with the center’s mission: Helping farmers, helping the community, feeding people and encouraging agriculture as an economic engine.
Cox said VFFC already had a good relationship with Killington.
“Everything in small communities like Rutland is based on relationships, and that’s sort of how this whole thing came about,” he said.
Cox said the event came at a good time for local farmers who were hurt by the reduction in purchasing by area restaurants.
Finding out that Killington wanted to fill 700 bags with food from as many providers as possible was an opportunity for VFFC, Cox said. The center’s staff brought in many farms to the project.
When I was down there today, there were a lot of smiling faces on the farmers because this was a good shot in the arm,” he said.
Weatherhogg noted that farmers from Evening Song Farm in Shrewsbury said they would put “seed in the ground” when they heard about the project in July. By Thursday, they delivered 700 bags of lettuce and 700 bags of spinach.
DiFiore said she believes there will be other food giveaways, but she didn’t have any specific dates.
“It almost feels like it’s never enough. You always want to do more. That is great that we were able to give away 700 bags of food but we would love to continue doing these moving forward,” she said.