ST. ALBANS — As community groups and non-profit organizations continue to collaborate across the county to end hunger they are finding one common barrier – a lack of transportation.

It was the main focus during the Franklin Grand Isle Hunger Council’s final meeting of the year, where local legislators were invited to hear updates on local projects, programs and initiatives relating to the fight against hunger. Present from the county were newly elected state representative from Franklin 5, Charen Fegard, and returning representatives Mike McCarthy, D-St. Albans City, Barbara Murphy, I-Fairfax, and Carl Rosenquist, R- Georgia.

The topic of transportation dominated the conversation around the room as leaders of various community organizations to shared updates on their work.

Robin Way of C.I.D.E.R., a ride service offered to seniors in Grand Isle County, mentioned he was highly concerned for the state as the demographics continue to age.

“The senior population in general, with a steadily growing population of older adults who are aging in place, an increasing number of whom will be unable to drive, the need for transportation to access food is going to increase as a critical need, and we are not even close to filling that need,” Way said.

Many community members in Fairfield are already facing this barrier. Deb Paradee, a long time volunteer with both the Fairfield Food Shelf and the Fairfield Community Center, said she sees many people not able to access their services because of a lack of transportation.

“We have some people up in Enosburgh that call us every week, that want to come to the senior center. But we can’t go and get them and we feel so bad,” Paradee said. “I would love to get more and more people there, but we just don’t have the transportation.”

Serving school-aged children, Nina Hansen of the Abbey Group, the county’s largest provider for school based meals, and Carol Lizotte, of Franklin Northwest Supervisory Union (FNSU), shared similar concerns.

To learn more about the connections between transportation and hunger, pick up a copy of Thursday’s Messenger or subscribe to our digital edition.