Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series
Policy name: Vermont Economic Stimulus Equity Fund
Overview: The government of Vermont is providing COVID-19 stimulus funding for immigrants who were not eligible to receive federally funded stimulus checks.
Population: 0.6 million
Food policy category: Food supply and distribution; food services; social and economic equity
Program goals: To support local farmworkers and Vermont’s dairy industry.
How it works: Immigrant farmworkers in Vermont who did not receive COVID-19 stimulus checks due to their immigration status will now receive aid.
Governor Phil Scott approved the state budget in October 2020, after the activist group Migrant Justice lobbied for state relief funds to support all Vermonters who did not receive a check due to their immigration status. The state budget included five million dollars to provide $1,200 each for adults and $500 each for children under 17.
The Vermont Community Foundation, a nongovernmental organization, will distribute the funds so that recipients, many of whom are undocumented, will feel comfortable applying for and accepting the payments.
Applications must be submitted by March 1, and funds will be distributed by April 1, 2021.
Progress to date: In the spring and summer of 2020, after the first federal stimulus checks were distributed, Migrant Justice established the Covid Solidarity Fund to raise funds from foundations, national organizations, Ben and Jerry’s, and individual donors to provide more than 400 workers and their families who were not eligible for the federal aid with $420 each.
At the same time, the organization also proposed that the state create an Immigrant Families Relief Fund to support all immigrants and their families who were not covered under the CARES Act. By August, the proposal had received support from 50 Vermont legislators.
Bill H.968 was introduced on September 4, 2020, and signed into law in October.
Why it is important: Farmworkers, most of whom are immigrants, are considered essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic because their work contributes to feeding the country. In 2015-2016, farmworkers’ average household incomes ranged from $20,000 to $24,999, and at least one-third of these families were living below the poverty line. Fewer than half of farmworkers reported having health insurance of any kind.
During the pandemic, farmworkers have been forced to continue working and putting themselves at risk of contracting COVID-19. If they or their family members get sick with COVID, they might not have the resources to pay for medical care.
The Stimulus Equity Fund promotes justice and equality for all, while also working to protect immigrants and Vermont’s dairy industry.
Program/Policy initiated: The budget was signed in October 2020.
Point of contact:
Executive Office of Governor Phil Scott
109 State Street, Pavilion
Montpelier, VT 05609
Evaluation: Formal evaluation has not yet been completed. However, a spokesperson for Migrant Justice believes that the funds are needed and will help those immigrants who receive them.