Pajala: Honoring service by serving others

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As I sit thinking about all of those who have sacrificed their lives for our country, two words ring loudest for me: service and honor.

The men and women who have given their lives for our country served all of us with honor. As citizens we owe them respect and eternal gratitude.

In this moment what can I, what can we, do to honor the service of others. There are many things that we all look to as a show of respect for the ultimate sacrifice: saluting the flag, leaving flowers and a flag by a gravestone, prayer, or a toast. We can also choose to serve our country, our community or people in our own right, in whatever way is available to us.

Even if you can do a small thing in service to others right now, do it. The people who serve in the military deserve the honor of seeing their example held up as an ideal we should all be striving for, especially now.

Serve each other. Honor each other. Serve with honor or simply with the best of intentions. Remember that our ability to be here, now is thanks to the sacrifice of others who believed in service for the collective good of all.

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More so than ever I have been focusing my service on providing information to people. Right now correct and current information is so crucial. It impacts how and if we can work, eat, see friends and family or pay our bills. Changes are happening so frequently it is often a challenge to keep up.

I hope that sharing the following information will help people keep food on their families' tables. There are so many resources to help with food insecurity and accessing any or all of them has become a first time reality for many.

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First, calling 211 is helpful no matter where you live or where you are trying to access resources such as food banks or Veggie Van Go locations. If you are not sure what is close by, they can point you in the right direction.

Second, 3SquaresVT is a great resource for eligible families with kids to get access to food. As a part of a nationwide pilot program, 3SquaresVT just made some changes to allow EBT online purchases at Amazon and Walmart to be delivered.

Third, Hunger Free Vermont is doing tremendous work across the state to increase access to food resources.

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We may not know all the options available to us as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis. If you have questions or need help please reach out to someone, anyone, who is serving your community. There are people at the ready to help.

There are also supports coming for our local food supply and distribution organizations. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets just announced a new request for applications for projects that support and strengthen collaboration between communities and local producers. With support from USDA, a total of $25,000 is available for grants in the range of $2,000 to $5,000 to be awarded to projects that contribute to improving existing and accelerating emerging community-driven market models that serve multiple farmers to increase points of access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other local products in Vermont communities. If you would like more information about this and other programs to support our local food supply visit https://agriculture.vermont.gov/covid-19-information/grants-loans-relief-payments.

It is an honor to serve this community. Please reach out to me at any time with questions, concerns or requests for help at kpajala@leg.state.vt.us or call 802-770-4987.

State Rep. Kelly Pajala (I-Londonderry) represents the Windham-Bennington-Windsor district in the Vermont House of Representatives, including the towns of Jamaica, Londonderry, Stratton, Weston and Winhall.


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