Land of plenty

Facing food insecurity, one Vermont family lives off the land.

Photo essay by Amy Toensing

Chad and Meg Thompson and their six children are often hungry. The family lives in a food desert, and because of mounting bills, they have zero budget for groceries. They make it work—barely—by coming up with creative ways to make ends meet when times get tough. And it gets tough often.

As shown in this photo essay, the family works their own land and enjoys the fruits of their efforts, especially during the growing season. During peak harvest times, the family meal consists of produce from their garden, meat from animals they raise or hunt and homemade bread using dairy from their milking cow. But this is how it looks when the food is plentiful.

Early winter to mid-winter is the hardest time of the year. Sometimes during the coldest months, dinner is a bowl of rice with an egg and some applesauce. Despite the constant challenge of making sure there’s enough to feed everyone, Meg and Chad have made it a priority to teach the kids about the value of healthy, whole foods and to “always know where your food comes from.” But when times are at their toughest, Meg tries to make a game of it, asking the kids to see how little they can eat some days to stretch the supply. “I never want the kids to feel like there’s not enough,” Meg says. “But if worse comes to worst, we could always kill the chickens.”

This story originally appeared in the December, 2015 issue of Kiwanis Magazine.

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