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Working Together to Address COVID-19 Challenges
The following is an excerpt from the High Meadows Fund's blog post titled 'Working Together to Address COVID-19 Challenges'.
Masks & Sanitizer
We found acquiring protective supplies, particularly face masks and hand sanitizer, to be a challenge for a variety of groups. Water quality testing, tree plantings, farm and food processing work, forest landowner visits, and eventually small community meetings will all require physical distancing in the coming months and perhaps longer. Organizations are already juggling many new demands during the pandemic, without adding face masks and hand sanitizer to the list.
A few weeks ago, we offered to find masks and sanitizer in bulk for our grant partners. This spawned a partnership with Rural Vermont and NOFA-VT to extend the offer to Vermont’s Farmer’s Market Association and farmstands, and before we knew it, we had over 50 requests for masks and sanitizer. We quickly realized why requests were pouring in: not only are the supplies themselves in short stock, but even empty containers for sanitizer were hard to come by.
Our eventual solution: Sweet Rowen Farmstead donated half-gallon containers left over from the chocolate milk they no longer produce; Farm Connex delivered the containers to Vermont Soy in Hardwick, which then bottled hand sanitizer High Meadows had purchased from Smugglers Notch Distillery. Vermont Teddy Bear donated masks and High Meadows purchased more from Vermont Glove.
Because of impending opening days, our first priority was to reach farmers markets. We have delivered over 800 face masks and 155 half gallons of hand sanitizer to market managers all over the state – as far north as Newport and Grand Isle, as far south as Brattleboro and Bennington, and many in between. By June 1, we hope to receive our last batch of face masks and then will deliver the rest of the supplies to our grantees who requested them.
The end result of this jigsaw solution was a Vermont product from start to finish, made possible by Vermont businesses responding to the explicit needs of local organizations. High Meadows responded to a specific request, articulated by our grantees based on their knowledge of the communities they serve, and we distributed the supplies through a well-established network of grantees and farmers market managers. As we turn our attention to long-term pandemic recovery, we hope to support work that builds this kind of connectivity in communities that face barriers to recovery.