Norwich volunteers receive Higher Education Community Service Award

On Thursday, Oct. 20th, Norwich University became the first college or university to be awarded the "Higher Education Community Service Award" by the Vermont Foodbank. The recognition came during the organization's third annual Big Event awards ceremony, held at their warehouse in Barre.

In December, 1986, the Vermont Foodbank opened its doors, serving eight member agency food shelves and community kitchens. It was then, and still is, Vermont's only foodbank. Today the Vermont Foodbank serves approximately 285 not-for-profit organizations with meal programs, community kitchens, shelters for the homeless, domestic abuse programs, food shelf programs, rehabilitative centers, and services for the elderly and children. The foodbank annually distributes approximately six million pounds of food. The Vermont Foodbank receives financial and product support from organizations, corporations, foundations, and individuals. Eighty-seven percent of the foodbank budget is sustained by the continuing support of both new and repeat food and financial donors.

Over the years, Norwich student volunteers have been responsible for sorting tons of food at the bank. In addition, they have accrued more "food credit" for a local food shelf than any other group of volunteers.

Accepting the Higher Education Community Service Award on behalf of the University was Nicole DiDommenico, Director of Volunteer Programs at Norwich, and student Pamela Bray. Cadet Bray is this year's student service liaison between the University and the food bank, and will be helping to coordinate future sort-a-thons for her Americorps service.

Deborah Flateman, CEO of the Vermont Foodbank, said that the Higher Education Community Service Award is given to a school or group of students from an educational institution that shows exemplary dedication and commitment to bettering their community. 

"These Norwich Cadets embody all that we love to see in young people who are truly concerned with the world around them," Flateman said. "We are so fortunate to be the beneficiary of their commitment and good will."

Patricia Ryan, Annual Fund Manager for the Vermont Foodbank, is equally impressed by the Norwich students.

"A strong core of volunteers is critical to the success of our work at the foodbank, and we love our student volunteers from Norwich," Ryan said.  "They are very caring and committed to having a positive impact on the community."