Christine Bongartz, of Manchester, recently joined the Board of Directors of Hunger Free Vermont.
Headquartered in South Burlington, HFV’s mission “is to end the injustice of hunger and malnutrition for all Vermonters.”
“I’m very proud to be part of this organization,” she said in a recent interview.
Bongartz “and brings her experiences in public health administration and serving as a school nurse to the group. She’s collaborated with numerous community partners in these various roles, and has been committed to promoting health and wellness for all in her community,” HFV wrote in a press release announcing her appointment.
The board has 10 members from around Vermont.
The other member from Bennington County is Lisa Helmholz-Adams, of Dorset.
Bongartz is a Registered Nurse, who worked in public health for 32 years. The last four years of her tenure was as district director of the Office of Local Health that covered Bennington County. This past four years she worked part-time as a school nurse in Rutland County.
“As a school nurse I got to experience first hand what hunger is like for young kids,” she said. “Food insecurity is real. It shouldn’t exist in this day and age. That’s one reason why I wanted to be a small part of the work HFV is doing.”
She is particularly interested in the universal school meals program that HFV has been pushing. Because all students get the meals, it takes away the stigma of just students from low-income families getting them, she said.
In working to end hunger, Bongartz is interested in issues across the spectrum, including helping elders. For one thing, meeting their food insecurity issues can help them remain at home.
Bongartz has been a long-time contributor to Hunger Free Vermont. She received email updates about their work and one of them was an open invitation for anyone interested in becoming a board member.
“I knew about HFV but took a deeper dive into their mission and what the board member responsibilities entailed. I was excited about submitting my name and hoped for an interview with Anore Horton, the executive director of HFV,” she said. “Much like the Health Department HFV has a robust strategic plan and is chiefly involved in education and advocacy work. I thought it would be a good fit for my skill set. I also was excited about having southern Vermont being represented. Now there are two board members from this county that sit on the board.”
She has participated in several board orientation sessions and a couple of board meetings by Zoom. “So far, the work has been interesting and there is a lot to learn,” she said.
One of HFV’s most prominent outreach efforts is the 10 Hunger Councils throughout the state. The Bennington Hunger Council draws members from many different sectors concerned with food security. HFV staff attend the meetings and provide information on relevant issues. Bongartz is familiar with the local Hunger Council’s work.
“I think it’s a brilliant part of the plan to have these councils throughout Vermont,” Bongartz said.