“Food Vision” Prize Partners with Local Quechee Business and Supports Local Growers

Vital Communities, the non-profit organization working to cultivate the civic, environmental, and economic vitality of the Upper Valley and engage Upper Valley people, organizations, and communities to create equitable solutions to our region’s challenges, was recently awarded a $200,000 New England Food Vision Prize for a multi-partner project.

This prize will enable the development of a regional farm ingredient-sourcing supply channel that will help create broader markets for the region’s food growers, especially farmers from the BIPOC and immigrant communities.

The central partner in this project is our own Quechee-based Global Village Foods, an African-inspired prepared food producer. Global Village Foods will now have the means to produce meals at a large scale for institutions, starting with University of Vermont, with food grown in New Hampshire and Vermont.

GVF owners Mel and Damaris Hall lead Rep. Peter Welch on a tour of the Quechee facilities 2021. [Photo by Brooke Grams.]

“We’re super excited because we have always tried to source our ingredients locally,” said Mel Hall, owner of Global Village Foods with his wife, Damaris, “As we begin to rebound from the pandemic, this grant enables us to grow from a small regional specialty brand to having national potential and to carry those local growers with us and offer them a guaranteed revenue stream.”

“[GVF owners] Mel and Damaris Hall have produced thousands of nutritious meals for our community and have been expanding their commitment to source more Vermont farm ingredients for their meals. The Food Vision Prize will allow for that vision to become a reality, which will positively impact our producers, especially BIPOC growers,” said Nancy LaRowe, Vital Communities Director of Food & Farm and Economy.

The Food Vision prize allows Global Village Foods to purchase food processing equipment and hire additional employees to process raw farm products into cleaned, sorted, and cut ingredients like those produced by large-scale international food processors. This will enable Global Village Foods to buy from farms across New England and sell regionally and nationally.

This project will support the significant growth that Global Village Foods anticipates for their allergy-friendly, culturally relevant, ready-to-eat meals into institutional food service channels and beyond.

“We’re poised to become the next nationally known Vermont brand, like Ben and Jerry’s,” Hall said.

[Top photo by Wangene Hall.]