Long lines, little waiting as Guard gives out MREs at Hartness Airport

Cars line up outside Hartness Airport for Wednesday’s MRE distribution. All photos by Kelly Burton.

By Kelly Burton
©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

With traffic by 9:30 last Wednesday morning snaking out onto Route 106, the Vermont National Guard’s distribution of boxes of Meals Ready to Eat was in full swing at Hartness State Airport in North Springfield.

This is the site of the third distribution by the Vermont National Guard in collaboration with the Vermont Food Bank. The two-week effort wrapped up on Friday, May 1, after distributing 375,000 boxed MREs, according to MyChamplainValley.com.

Traffic flowed and the packaged meals were handed out in a brisk and determined manner by the 35 members of the Berlin-based unit.

Wednesday’s outpouring of need did not go unnoticed by Sgt. Caleb Lewis, who noted that last week the first distribution in Swanton had 35 pallets but more had to be brought in.

A Vermont National Guardsman distributes MREs last Wednesday.

Wednesday’s drop held 160 pallets, with more on standby — with a total of 122,880 meals.

Lewis said he was humbled by the stories he was hearing about food insecurity just at this drop. Some adults, he said, were going hungry, only feeding the children in the family.

He called the numbers staggering and said it was just the beginning of what he expects to see in the long term during the Coid-19 pandemic.

Others said that the effects of the pandemic had hit them hard after seeing the Vermont National Guard in town. Pam Campbell of North Springfield said the large turnout for assistance and the number of National Guard vehicles responding just 3 miles from her home was eye-opening, shedding light on what she thinks will be an ongoing issue.

National Guard trucks line up loaded with MREs.

“I can’t believe how fast they are distributing meals,” said one person waiting in line. “The traffic went so fast, I thought I was going to be in a many hour line.”

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