Through a collaborative effort, residents of the Johnson area have been sitting down to a free community meal a couple times a month for the past few years. Beginning in March, the Johnson CommUNITY Meal will be offered every Wednesday.
The Johnson CommUNITY Meal program is coordinated by Sodexo's Johnson State College Dining Services, with the help of student volunteers. Meals are served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the United Church of Johnson on a walk-in basis. The meals are free, with any donations going to the local food shelf.
The change from bi-weekly to weekly, which will double the number of meals offered, goes into effect on March 5. The program is a collaboration between Johnson State College, the United Church of Johnson and Laraway Youth & Family Services. Organizers say the meals are provided as a way to encourage community members to connect, while addressing a critical need in the Johnson area.
"Statewide, more than 7,500 [6 percent] of Vermont seniors and one in five children are 'food insecure,' meaning they lack consistent access to healthy food," a CommUNITY Meals press release stated.
February meals will be offered Wednesday, Feb. 12 and 26, with weekly service beginning the following Wednesday. Since December 2010, Johnson State College Dining Services has provided 4,106 free meals through the program. To date, guests have contributed more than $2,503, which has been donated to the Johnson Food Shelf.