Just Basics, Inc. (JBI) creates programs that address basic needs and work towards improving social and food justice in the greater Montpelier community through food distribution and education. JBI addresses emergency food needs through two main programs: the Montpelier Food Pantry and Summer Meals for Kids. The Montpelier Food Pantry is the main source of emergency food for over one thousand Montpelier area residents who do not have access to affordable, nutritious food.
JBI’s work also includes collaborating with community partners, organizations, and a network of supporters, including corporate sponsors, local businesses, volunteers, and individual donors. Two examples of JBI’s partnerships include working with VT Fresh to offer activities such as cooking demonstrations and food tastings, and partnering with Community Harvest of Central Vermont to ensure the food pantry has fresh local produce to distribute year-round. JBI also works with a number of area schools to offer a safe, welcoming space for children to gather for free healthy lunches during the months of summer vacation.
Hunger Mountain Co-op supports JBI and the Montpelier Food Pantry in many ways, including grants, food donations, and funds. A grant from the Hunger Mountain Cooperative Community Fund supported the expansion of the food pantry’s Recipe Kits program. Through that effort, volunteers plan and test new recipes and then create kits based on those recipes, including all the ingredients and a list of instructions. These have proven to be extremely popular and have helped folks learn how to cook healthy and tasty meals with ease.
For the past three years, the Montpelier Food Pantry has been one of the recipients of the Co-op’s Holiday Grocery Pack bags. In mid-December, the food pantry receives 150 grocery bags filled with nutritious food, including organic peanut butter, local apples, organic oranges, bulk brown rice, and freshly baked bread. The retail value for each Holiday Grocery bag is $30.
Every day, Co-op shoppers have an opportunity to support JBI’s work through the Bag That Bag program. For each reusable bag, basket or box used in place of a paper bag, the Co-op donates five cents to the Montpelier Food Pantry. Those nickels add up fast. In the past month, Co-op shoppers have collectively raised $870.65 while saving 17,413 paper bags. Since launching the program in July of 2016, the Co-op has donated a total of $26,165.25 to the pantry and has replaced 523,305 bags.
“We have received an average of $10,000 a year since the Bag That Bag program began,” says Jaime Bedard, Executive Director of Just Basics, Inc. “For a small organization such as ourselves, this is a HUGE help to our mission, and it enables us to substantially boost our food budget as well as supplement our educational food justice programs.”
Visit justbasicsvt.org to learn more about Just Basics,including additional ways you can help.