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USDA Extends Free Meal Program

The Abbey Group is thrilled to announce that the USDA recently released the extension of their free meal program for the remainder of 2020. This allows us to serve completely free and nutritious meals to all children, regardless of their situation, until the end of the year. 

We know that many families were and continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we enter the 2020-2021 school year, The Abbey Group recognizes that our children are learning in completely new environments. With the stress of adapting to long-term remote learning, hybrid model teaching, and various other changes to our normal routine, this move by the USDA allows us to help remove one key stressor: feeding our children. Whether that be in the cafeteria, in the classroom, or at home, The Abbey Group deeply values the importance of a nutritious and filling meal. Quality nutrition has the power to help kids stay focused and do their best work under both ordinary and extraordinary circumstances.

The program is completely free to all children under the age of 18 with no application required. Parents and guardians can also choose to pick up meals for their children. Families are encouraged to complete free or reduced meal cost applications for future meal service beginning in 2021.

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USDA Farmers to Families Contract Extended!

When The Abbey Group was chosen by the USDA to be a Farmers to Families Food Box Program distributor at the beginning of May, it was hard to fully imagine the impact that this program could have on our friends and neighbors in need. Since starting distribution over five weeks ago, we have served hundreds of thousands of boxes of food to thousands of local families. This has amounted to approximately 2.4 million pounds of perishable food. Given the initial program end date of June 30th, The Abbey Group can proudly say that our contract with the USDA has been extended to the end of August. 

 

The USDA has contracted with the Abbey Group to distribute over 2,700,000 pounds of food (266,000 boxes) to Vermont families. In collaboration with the state of Vermont and the Vermont Foodbank, food boxes of mixed cheese and butter, Brakebush chicken, fresh produce, and milk from HPHood Dairy, Monument Farms Dairy, Thomas Dairy and Kingdom Creamery will continue to be distributed between July 1 through August 31st.

 

In this next round of distribution, 440,000 pounds of VT produce is planned to be handed out. Reinhart Food Service, Black River Produce, Green Mountain Farm to School, Healthy Roots Collaborative, the Center for Agricultural Economy and Deep Root Organics are valued partners in this project.

 

Additional Information

For more information regarding the Farmers to Families Food Box Program visit the USDA’s website.

Founded in 1982, The Abbey Group is a family-owned food service management company. We specialize in handcrafted foods that use local ingredients. For more information visit The Abbey Group website.

For upcoming program pick-up locations and information, follow The Abbey Group on Facebook and Twitter.

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Abbey Group Awarded Farmers to Families Food Box Program Contract

The Abbey Group is proud to announce that on May 8th, 2020, we were selected to participate in the federal Farmers to Families Food Box Program. We are one of two contractors for the state of Vermont to earn this recognition. In April of 2020, the USDA announced the unprecedented program with the purpose of supplying locally sourced food to families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Vermont Foodbank, the Vermont National Guard, the Healthy Roots Collaborative, Green Mountain Farm to School and various local dairy processors worked collaboratively with The Abbey Group to craft the bid.

In a recent University of Vermont study, it was estimated that food insecurity rose 33% due to the current pandemic. The rapidly changing employment status of Vermont’s residents is largely to blame for this increase. The Farmers to Families Food Box Program aims to ensure food security for families in need. The program is in effect for the duration of May and June, with the possibility of extension. The program functions by connecting local farmers distributors. These farmers and distributors previously would have been working with restaurants and bulk purchasers. Distributors then package and supply family-sized food boxes to local contractors, such as The Abbey Group. Local contractors then distribute those boxes to those in need. Before the announcement of this program, The Abbey Group has been working tirelessly to provide wholesome meals to kids under 18, through their local schools since their closure in March.

 

Our Commitment to Local

The Abbey Group is no stranger to connecting local farmers to local families. As a food service group whose mission is to deliver the highest quality meals, utilize agricultural products from local growers, promote healthy choices and demonstrate a high level of customer service, The Abbey Group has the homegrown infrastructure and knowledge to help the Farmers to Families Food Box Program serve for our fellow Vermonters during this time of uncertainty.

For years, The Abbey Group has worked with a variety of local food producers both directly and indirectly. We do our best to prioritize direct relationships with these farms and producers whenever possible. Partnerships are solidified after satisfactory site inspections by our experienced personnel. The Farmers to Families Food Box Program has created an opportunity to call on our relationships with local producers to expand our reach. The Abbey Group is excited to step up and support our neighbors with the aid provided by the program. Abbey Thomas of Thomas Dairy noted that “participating in these events will really help in using excess milk supply that we are experiencing due to the pandemic’s burden on many of our customers. The effort, true to our little state, comes full circle; Vermonters helping Vermonters.”

 

Our first pick-up event will take place Friday, May 15th, 2020 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Edward F. Knapp State Airport.

 

Additional InformationEdward F. Knapp Farmers to Families Poster 2020

For more information regarding the Farmers to Families Food Box Program visit the USDA’s website.

Founded in 1982, The Abbey Group is a family-owned food service management company. We specialize in handcrafted foods that use local ingredients. For more information visit The Abbey Group website.

For upcoming program pick-up locations and information, follow The Abbey Group’s Farmers to Families Twitter page.

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Abbey Group visits local school greenhouse

Middlebury Union HS Greenhouse

The latest installment in the “Our Partners in Fresh” video series is a bit different from the ones we’ve already done.

Middlebury Union High School science teacher Steve Colangeli approached the marketing department about the school’s alternative education program and the work it does in the school’s greenhouse. At the beginning of November, we paid them a visit.

Students in the program grow greens, lettuce, kale, etc…, harvest them and hand-deliver them to the cafeteria, where they are used in the salad bar. Many of our schools have similar partnerships.

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