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Food Connects to get $1,000 from The Abbey Group to better serve local schools

The Abbey Group has pledged to donate $1,000 to Food Connects, a Vermont-based non-profit that runs a Farm-to-School program and food hub.

“The Abbey Group has a long-standing commitment to supporting local food in our communities,” said David Underwood, CEO of The Abbey Group. “We enthusiastically give back to organizations that share those commitments.”

Food Connects seeks to build healthy families, thriving farms and connected communities, according to the organization’s website. Its farm-to-school program helps bring local, fresh ingredients into cafeterias around southern Vermont, as well as educate students about healthy food through hands-on engagement.

The Abbey Group does the same in its 100-plus schools across the region.

Last year, donations such as this one helped Food Connects to expand its food hub services into New Hampshire schools, to provide additional services in schools, and to grow the local economy through food system development.

“We can’t thank The Abbey Group enough for their generous support of our work,” said Richard Berkfield, executive director of Food Connects. “Their donation allows Food Connects to support more schools in increasing meal participation and local purchasing while simultaneously opening up new markets for our local farmers.”

The Abbey Group is a comprehensive food service management company based in Sheldon, Vermont. It provides meals at more than 100 schools across New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont, and at several corporate and government food courts.

For more information on Food Connects and its programs, please visit

Stanley Blow III
Marketing Associate
The Abbey Group
(O): 800-696-4748, ext. 18

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The Abbey Group Visits Burtt’s Apple Orchard


At first, Greg Burtt didn’t have a formal business plan. He didn’t think about finances. All he had was a handful of apple seeds, a plot of land on his family’s farm in Cabot, Vermont, and a passion for the outdoors.

Starting in 2005, Burtt planted and cared for about 700 apple trees, which would become the inaugural trees in his pick-your-own operation, Burtt’s Apple Orchard. The orchard officially opened for business in 2009, and eight years later, he’s got a booming business with about 9,000 trees.

Burtt wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Like other farmers say: (agriculture)’s in your blood,” Burtt said, standing in front of a line of apple trees. “Once you’re farming, it’s hard to stop, so you look for any way to keep going at it.

“I love being outside. I love the fact that I’m outside every day.”

In addition to his pick-your-own business and farm stand, Burtt sells apples wholesale across the region, and The Abbey Group is proud to be one of his customers.

The Abbey Group likes to feature local products in its 100-plus school cafeterias and is always looking to forge working relationships with food producers across the region.

About three years ago, Burtt approached Abbey Group Food Service Director Bob Hildebrand, and the two have worked together ever since, making sure Burtt’s apples reach the hands of local school children across Vermont.

Burtt thinks often about his three daughters, two of whom are currently in local schools.

“Knowing that the foods they’re eating are coming from neighbors is a big deal to me,” he said.

For Burtt, it’s important that his children can connect with their local identity through the foods they eat. It helps them to be good stewards of the land.

“I’m happy to be able to supply apples to our kids for that reason,” he said.

In an average year, The Abbey Group purchases about 6,000 cases of apples — 138 apples per case — through partnerships with Reinhart Food Service, Green Mountain Farm-to-School and individual producers.

Burtt’s Apple Orchard is just one of many local businesses that help feed our children.

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Top Abbey Group executives get new positions

SHELDON, Vt. — As The Abbey Group continues to expand its influence into New Hampshire and Upstate New York, two high-ranking employees have gained new titles.

Scott Choiniere — the former vice president of operations — will now be the executive vice president of the company, and Nina Hansen — a longtime school nutrition specialist — will take over as VP of operations.

Choiniere said it’s hard to say exactly what he does, as he does just about everything. At its core, his job is a support role. He advocates for employees and goes wherever he is needed.

“I do what it takes to get the job done,” he said.

Sometimes that means helping an account get its computer point-of-sale system up and running. Other times, it means closing deals and helping the company grow into new markets.

Hansen is a 20-plus-year veteran of The Abbey Group. Among her many duties, she spearheads account development in both new and current accounts — training new managers and making sure they comply with US Department of Agriculture regulations. She also will continue to act as the food service director for Bellows Free Academy St. Albans, St. Albans Town Educational Center, St. Albans City School and the Winooski School District.

While their titles have changed, Choiniere and Hansen will continue to work closely with each other and the company’s network of food service directors to ensure all operations run smoothly.

The Abbey Group is a food service management company that dishes up thousands of healthy and delicious meals every day across Vermont, New Hampshire and New York. It works in more than 100 schools and a handful of corporate and government food courts, including the Capitol Food Court in Montpelier, Vermont.

Scott Schoiniere, Executive Vice President
Nina Hansen, Vice President of Operations

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