The Mission of HANDS
The mission of HANDS is to provide food for seniors, 50 years and older, in Chittenden County, Vermont. We do this with the very generous help of hundreds of organizations, businesses, and volunteers, thank you!
*Provides annual Holiday Dinner, a hot meal and giftbag delivery for over 1,000 people on Christmas Day throughout Chittenden County with the help of Age Well, Burlington School Food Project, Penny Cluse Café, Temple Sinai, and hundreds of volunteers and businesses
*Offers “HANDS in the Dirt” gardening programs in partnership with Red Wagon Plants, Vermont Community Garden Network, and gardening expert Charlie Nardozzi at senior housing, long-term care nursing centers, and community garden sites
*Delivers “HANDS in the Kitchen” workshops with Chef Robin Bennett and Kerry Batres that cover topics such as cooking for one, shopping on a budget, eating healthy foods, & so much more
*Matches seniors with volunteers through our “Support Buddies” program which we implemented in partnership with Heineberg Community Senior Center in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteers help with everything from occasional phonecall check-ins to assistance with groceries.
Please check our “Programs” page for more specific information.
To get these services delivered, your support is very much appreciated. Even $5 will help us meet this year’s fundraising goal. On behalf of older adults in Vermont, 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 making the life of a senior a little bit brighter and healthier!
The History of HANDS
HANDS started about 20 years ago when Megan Humphrey was working at a local senior center. Margaret, a senior who attended the center, told her how tough it was to be alone on Christmas. Megan promised Martha that the next year, seniors would gather on Christmas Day. That first year, there were about 20 people who came together for a holiday meal. This past year, 1,000 meals and giftbags were delivered all over the county.
Seeing other gaps in food security, Megan started partnering with local organizations to include “HANDS in the Dirt” gardening programs (at senior housing and long-term nursing centers with assistance from Vermont Community Garden Network, gardening expert Charlie Nardozzi, Gardeners Supply, Hannaford, & Red Wagon Plants), have meals delivered to veterans and other low-income seniors (in partnership with Feeding Chittenden’s ‘Good Food Truck’, Canal Street Veterans Housing, & Winooski Housing Authority), and provide nutrition education through our “HANDS in the Kitchen” programs (with help from AARP VT, Chef Robin Burnett, CCTV Town Meeting TV, City Market, Heineberg Community Senior Center, Vermont Foodbank, and senior housings).
Eventually, a friend approached Megan and suggested that HANDS become a 501c3, but Megan knew that the federal paperwork was daunting. Our friend offered to complete the paperwork and file it—that’s how we became a 501c3!
When COVID hit in March 2020, we had to shift gears quickly. HANDS partnered with Heineberg Community Senior Center and we immediately established “Support Buddies”. We realized that seniors were suddenly isolated and scared at home, and needed food and other supplies. So, we called 650 seniors to see what they needed. We matched volunteers with seniors who wanted help, anything from an occasional phonecall check-in to groceries and meals delivered. Since then, our partnership has grown to include Age Well, August First, Barrio Bakery, Burlington’s Resource & Recovery Center, City Market, Computers for Change, Everyone Eats, Hannaford, Jake’s ONE Market, New England Grassroots Environment Fund, New North End Food Pantry, ShiftMeals, Sweetwaters, and Vermont Foodbank. It’s a remarkable community effort and we appreciate everyone’s commitment.
HANDS strives to fill gaps rather than duplicating what’s already be offered. One person can make a difference, but it’s even more effective when many brains and hands come together to solve a problem.