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Co-op Joins Capstone’s Fuel Your Neighbors Effort

Fuel Your Neighbors Effort

Capstone Community Action provides comprehensive services to help people achieve economic well-being with dignity and develops partnerships to strengthen Vermont communities. Our commitment is to alleviate the suffering caused by poverty, to work with individuals and families to move out of poverty, and to advocate for economic justice for all Vermonters. Now through February 1, shoppers can round up their purchases to the next dollar at Hunger Mountain Co-op, to join this effort.

How did the Fuel Your Neighbors program begin? What was the impetus for it?

Capstone Community Action, VSECU, and radio station The Point FM had partnered in the past on small initiatives to support Capstone’s heating assistance program. Four years ago, we saw an increased need for support of our food shelf as well. So, we wanted to do something bigger to help raise awareness of the challenges faced by thousands of members of our community to meet their basic needs, particularly in winter, and to raise money for emergency food and heating assistance. With generous backing from VSECU, Fuel Your Neighbors launched as a 100-day initiative to accomplish these objectives during Vermont’s coldest months.

How does the program provide emergency food?

Capstone Community Action operates the largest food shelf in central Vermont. Last year, we provided nearly 308,884 pounds of food to thousands of residents. With no public funding for this service, the Fuel Your Neighbors campaign is critical to keeping our food shelf stocked and meeting community needs.

How does the program provide emergency heating assistance?

The threshold and requirements for households to qualify for publicly funded heating assistance has become increasingly tight and is drastically out of touch with the cost of living in our state. For example, 40 percent of households who rely on this service are senior citizens with a fixed income. People are forced to make tough decisions on food, heat, and medication. Fuel Your Neighbors allows Capstone Community Action to step in and help a family so they don’t have to choose between heating their home or putting food on the table.

What is the biggest challenge for Capstone in making sure the program reaches the people who need it? How do you overcome that challenge?

The biggest challenge for Fuel Your Neighbors is to meet the increased demand for emergency food and heating assistance in central Vermont. We are grateful for the support that so many individuals and businesses have provided to the campaign thus far. We’re already witnessing its impact on local families. However, we need the community’s continued involvement to successfully reach our goal of raising $200,000.

What would you most like the public to know about this program and its impact?

Fuel Your Neighbors is a crucial piece of our effort to create stability in a family’s life, so we might then help empower them to find their voice and vision for their future.

When families see a bright, secure future for themselves and their kids, it leads to stronger community engagement and more active participation in community life. Stronger social networks are built, more diverse voices are heard, and new leaders emerge.

Text provided by Hunger Mountain Co-op.