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Students assist customers at the Middlebury Foods September pick-up at Mary Hogan Elementary School.

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The Upstart Start-up Middlebury Foods (video)

October 17, 2016

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- Once a month, a small fleet of U-Haul vans driven by Middlebury College students caravans through the rolling landscape of Addison County, en route to delivering nearly six tons of food to local customers at schools, churches, and American Legion halls. This is Middlebury Foods, a student-founded nonprofit grocery distributor that hopes to disrupt the food system by making fresh foods more affordable to more people.

Customers order the produce and meat online, choosing from a range of assortments at varying prices. On delivery day, the student crew arrives at a warehouse stacked with boxes of broccoli, onions, carrots, apples, rice, and much more. They sort, weigh, label, and pack hundreds of brown grocery bags into the vans, then set off for the delivery sites.

The organization, which is not affiliated with the College or the local food co-op, hopes to reduce barriers, such as cost and accessibility, to purchasing high-quality fresh food. In the three years they've been in business, the group has seen rapid growth in demand for the service. They launched with just a few customers and a handful of products. Now they offer 34 products, sourced from more than a dozen producers, and they deliver to six different sites across the county.

They've also started accepting payments through SNAP, the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, which helps them expand their service to lower-income customers.

Alex Brockelman ’18, the group's communications manager, is pleased with the progress Middlebury Foods has made in a relatively short time. "I think we're proving that it can be done," Brockelman said. "And I think we're proving that a community can decide that that's how they want it."

7 Comments

Great video! The spokesperson described the food access issue and the Middlebury Foods operations so clearly, and the customer's comments were perfect! This video perfectly demonstrates the power of compassion in action!!

by Suzy McNamara (not verified)

It's great to see college students making such an impact. Keep up the good work!

by Jonathan (not verified)

What an ingenious platform for improving the health and well-being of a community. Besides increasing access to quality food through convenience and affordability, it is impressive that their approach also cultivates positive relationships and supports local vendors. So glad to have seen this video!

by Paulina Harkey (not verified)

You're doing great work in the community creating access to affordable local foods. Very impressive!

by Sheila (not verified)

It's great to see college students making such an impact. Keep up the good work!

by Erdem Özkan (not verified)

This is the sort of program we need in every community across the nation to ensure our neighbors, friends, and family all have access to healthy, affordable food. Way to go--keep up the incredible work.

by Chris (not verified)

Great video! The spokesperson described the food access issue and the Middlebury Foods operations so clearly, and the customer's comments were perfect!

by dargman69 (not verified)

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