SOURCE: Vermont Foodbank

December 14, 2007 17:27 ET

Senate Action on Farm Bill Good News for Needy Vermonters

BARRE, VT--(Marketwire - December 14, 2007) - The Vermont Foodbank hailed action in the United States Senate this afternoon after the Senate passed the Food and Energy Security Act of 2007, also known as the "Farm Bill." The Senate voted 79 to 14 for passage. The Farm Bill is a 5 year Congressional reauthorization of agricultural, conservation and nutrition policy. The legislation funds and makes improvements to the Food Stamp Program and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) providing nutritional assistance to low-income people. "The passage of the Farm Bill in the Senate represents important progress and is a hopeful sign that badly needed hunger relief will be available to low-income Vermonters early next year," said Doug O'Brien, CEO of the Vermont Foodbank.

The Vermont Foodbank and food banks around the country have struggled with declining food inventories and increasing requests for aid. An estimated 25 million low-income people accessed food banks last year. In Vermont, more than 66,000 low-income people turned to the local partners of the Vermont Foodbank for assistance, including an estimated 14,500 people this week.

Throughout Vermont requests for emergency food assistance at food shelves, pantries, and soup kitchens has been increasing while at the same time USDA commodity donations in TEFAP have plummeted by more than 70 percent in the state. Both the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill will increase the amount of commodity support for food banks and will provide additional hunger relief for low-income families, the working poor and elderly people struggling to meet their basic needs.

The Senate passed Farm Bill will increase TEFAP commodity donations to Vermont and will also stop the erosion of food stamp benefits that more than 48,000 needy Vermonters rely upon. The Senate passed bill will help low-income families by helping food stamp benefits purchasing power keep pace with food inflation and will encourage savings by low-income people enrolled in food stamps by increasing allowable savings and retirement benefits frozen since 1986. An estimated 23,000 low-income Vermonters will benefit from the food stamp changes in the Senate Farm Bill. "Tens of thousands of our needy neighbors around Vermont have struggled with the rising cost of fuel, food and housing," said Doug O'Brien. "The Senate passage of this legislation could not have come at a better time for working families struggling this winter."

An estimated $6 million in additional nutrition program spending will come into Vermont as a consequence of today's vote. "We are very grateful to Senators Leahy and Sanders for their leadership in moving the bill forward with a strong nutrition title," said O'Brien. The Senate had deadlocked for several weeks and prospects for passing the Farm Bill before the Congressional winter recess had become bleak. With today's vote, the Farm Bill will now proceed to a House-Senate conference committee and a final bill is expected in January.

Vermont Foodbank, Inc.

The Vermont Foodbank, a statewide organization, is the largest hunger relief charity in Vermont, providing more than 6 million pounds of food to 270 local partner agencies in all 14 counties last year. The Vermont Foodbank and its partners served more than 66,000 needy Vermonters with more than 5 million meals in 2006. The Vermont Foodbank is a member of America's Second Harvest - The Nation's Food Bank Network. For facts and figures on hunger and poverty, to sign-up to receive our newsletter, to find a food shelf in your community, and to learn about the Federal Nutrition Programs, visit us on the web at

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Judy Stermer
    Vermont Foodbank
    w. 802-477-4108
    c. 734-604-0096