“Support Buddies”

Martin, from Jake’s ONE Market, and Jess, HANDS, help load bulk groceries

Very quickly, we shifted gears to respond to the COVID-19 virus. We partnered with Heineberg Community Senior Center to create “Support Buddies”. Volunteers are matched with seniors who are isolated at home. These caring volunteers provide phonecall check-ins, help with grocery lists, and assist where needed. So far, we’ve spoken with over 600 seniors, provide meal and delivery to at least 100 folks a week, and have 25 volunteers onboard. Thank you Age Well, Burlington’s Resource & Recovery Center (especially Will Clavelle), City Market, Jake’s ONE Market, restaurants who have donated meals, and all of our volunteers for your partnerships in this necessary endeavor! Planning ahead, we’ll be renovating a building at Heineberg Senior Center and sharing the space with the New North End Food Pantry to create a safe distribution location and separate entrance during COVID and beyond.

“HANDS in the Kitchen” Nutrition Education

Chef Robin Teaching a Cooking ClassWe’re disappointed that we’ve had to postpone our workshop series, for the safety and health of seniors we serve. Chef Robin hosts our “HANDS in the Kitchen” workshops. She offers cooking suggestions and lots of education about all of the great fresh food that we can include in our own menus. Workshops are geared for anyone 50 years or older thanks to funding from AARP Vermont, City Market, Fountain Fund, HANDS, and Vermont Community Garden Network among others.

We have shifted to online workshops so please find those right here. The series includes cooking hints, nutrition tips, how to shop on a budget, cooking for one, and taste-testing. There’s a different theme each week so we always leave with great tips.

Chef Robin presented an in-person workshop called “Healthy Ways to Use Summer Produce” on Tuesday, July 14 at 1:00pm at Heineberg Community Senior Center, 14 Heineberg Road in Burlington. Have too much zucchini or too many tomatoes? Want to know what to do with those beans? Chef Robin will help! With limited participation and strict health protocols, we ask that you register ahead at https://heinebergcsc.org or call Adele at 863-3982, x1. Hope to see you there!

We’ve gone online this summer. You can view videos by Chef Robin that cover everything from “Superfoods” to “Stretching Your Food Dollars” to “Meal Prep Made Easy” and everything in-between on CCTV Town Meeting TV at www.cctv.org, on Channel 17, or right here on our website.

“HANDS in the Dirt”

Last summer (2019), we had a fabulous gardening season at Elderwood, Ethan Allen Residence, and Our Lady of Providence. And we were able to donate plants and/or tools to Canal Street Veterans Housing, Heineberg Housing, McKenzie House, St. John’s Hall, St. Joseph’s Residential Care Home, and Winooski Senior Center. Very special thanks to AARP, Gardeners Supply, Charlie Nardozzi, Red Wagon Plants, and Vermont Community Gardening Network for partnering with us!

This summer, because of COVID-19, we’re trying to figure out how to get info and plants to our sites as well as offer guidance. We’ve created some online workshops and you’ll be able to find them right here. In addition, we’ve scheduled an in-person workshop with gardening expert Charlie Nardozzi. On Thursday, July 9 at 1:00pm at Heineberg Community Senior Center, 14 Heineberg Road in Burlington, there was the chance to learn about watering tips, thinning plants out, bugs in the garden, harvesting, and so much more. With limited participation and strict health protocols, we asked that you register ahead at https://heinebergcsc.org or call Adele at 863-3982, x1. Hope we saw you there!

And we’ve gone online with Charlie this summer. You may see Charlie’s videos at CCTV Town Meeting TV at www.cctv.org, on Channel 17, or right here on our website.

Gardening expert Charlie Nardozzi, presenting a workshop at Elderwood in 2019

Please check out this video in which Todd Bowling is the star, at the St. Michael’s College veterans garden site in 2016.

Holiday Dinner

Now in our 17th year, we help to provide a non-denominational meal delivery throughout Chittenden County as well as a shared sitdown dinner on Christmas Day. We partner with Age Well, Burlington School Food Project, Michelle Charron, Elks Club, Penny Cluse Café, and Temple Sinai as well as hundreds of volunteers and businesses. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to have the sitdown dinner at the Elks Club this year because of COVID. But, we can still deliver a meal to you if you’re 50 or older and  live in Chittenden County.

Some years ago, Age Well (formerly Champlain Valley Agency on Aging) requested that we take over their Christmas Day meal delivery program. In 2019, we prepared and delivered about 350 meals to older Vermonters. In addition, we collaborated with the Elks Club to help provide a delightful sit-down dinner for another 450 seniors and their families. Each person received a wrapped giftbag which, in many cases, was the only gift that a senior received during the holiday season.

We depend on volunteers and businesses to provide donations for the meals and giftbags, wrap gifts, make the meals, staff the sit-down dinner, donate money, and deliver meals. On behalf of older Vermonters, of whom 7,800 experience some form of food insecurity according to 2013 Hunger Free Vermont statistics, thank you so much for your generosity in lending a hand!

We’ll be offering delivered meals again on Christmas Day this year.

Good Food Truck

Unfortunately, Feeding Chittenden is unable to provide meal deliveries for us at this time. We’re hopeful that we can offer this program again sometime soon.

Ray at Canal Street Veterans Housing, getting a hot meal from the Good Food Truck


HANDS was fortunate enough to be contacted by NPR’s StoryCorps in the summer of 2016. Megan Humphrey interviewed Charlie Auer, of “Charlie’s Boathouse” fame, about food long ago in Burlington. Please sit back, relax, and listen to Charlie’s delightful stories.