City Market is a single store, Member-owned, community food cooperative in Burlington, Vermont. Our Food for All Program is a 10% Member discount program created to help ensure that all members of our community have access to healthy food choices for their families. Co-op Members who receive benefits through 3SquaresVT (formerly Vermont's Food Stamps program), WIC, or Social Security Disability are eligible for the program. We worked with a statewide organization, called Hunger Free Vermont, to create the program, and continue to partner with this organization to reach out to a variety of populations in our community and to improve the program.
Since creating this program, City Market has worked to share information with other cooperatives who have started similar programs in their communities. In FY12, Members of the Food for All program received almost $170,000 in extra purchasing power toward healthy food through discounts at City Market. In the program's first 12 months, 578 new Members took advantage of its benefits.
Partner with organizations that are working with food insecure populations in Vermont and offer increased access to healthy food for our communities food insecure families
Since the Program began in late 2008 it has been a major success. This is, in large part, because of the support of local nonprofits promoting the program to those with limited incomes. The relationships with almost a dozen of these local nonprofits has been the most successful technique for marketing the Food for All Program and has vastly increased the number of participants. In the Program’s first 12 months, the Co-op had 578 new Members taking advantage of the program. As of 2012, the Co-op has 1,148 individuals and families enrolled in Food for All. In 2011, the Co-op recognized sales of $1.6 million through the Food for All Program; this is over 5% of total sales for the Co-op. Marissa Parisi, Executive Director of Food for All partner Hunger Free Vermont, sees the program as, “allowing people to make their money go further, while providing other benefits that are unique to co-ops — such as food related education and bulk items that are culturally appropriate for diverse populations.” In addition to drawing in more low-income shoppers, City Market/Onion River Co-op has also seen its program bring in a growing number of people from Burlington’s large refugee resettlement population who are attracted to the Co-op’s bulk items.
Clem Nilan, General Manager Our outreach goal is to combat childhood hunger, so we work with several agencies, including Hunger Free Vermont and the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf. Rob Meehan, director of CEFS, tells me that need is greater than he has ever seen it, even with two people working full-time jobs, because they can’t feed families on what they are making. One other side effect is less giving on the corporate and individual level. There is increased need, but decreased giving. Our Food for All program is giving these food insecure families more access to healthy food and, along with our other programs and partnerships, helps to alleviate hunger in our community.