A network of microphilanthropy that supports Middlebury students.

We will address the problem of food insecurity in Vermont by providing people with an easy and affordable way to purchase nutritious food. MiddSTART would help us pay for fixed costs involved with starting a project of this size.

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Dollars Raised: 580%

Funding Details

Deadline: Aug 31, 2013
Total needed: $2,000


Middlebury Foods Team 2
Nathan Weil '15 Econ Geneva, Switzerland
Harry Zieve-Cohen '15 Lit Studies Brooklyn, NY
Chris Kennedy '15 Poli Sci Chicago, IL
Jack Cookson '15 Econ San Francisco, CA
Elias Gilman '15 Poli Sci Berkeley, CA
Oliver Mayers '15 Phil and Arabic Montreal, Canada
Eduardo Danino-Beck '15 Film Lima, Peru



Jack & Nathan page

We will address the problem of food insecurity in Vermont by providing people with an easy and affordable way to purchase nutritious food. MiddSTART would help us pay for fixed costs involved with starting a project of this size.

By building a market-based, transaction-oriented, and self-sustaining hunger-relief program we will address the wide-spread societal issues that stem from hunger and malnutrition, driven by inadequate access to healthy food options. We will purchase high-quality meats and vegetables, bundling them together in food boxes, to sell on a bimonthly basis at local delivery sites including churches and community organizations. Each box provides a week’s worth of affordable and highly-nutritious food at approximately $1.50 per meal. Through Middlebury Foods, Vermonters will be able to purchase supermarket-quality food at fast-food prices.

We have modeled Middlebury Foods on the Top Box Foods program in Chicago, IL. Their novel approach to food distribution dramatically reduces the cost of healthy food for people of high need. We hope to bring this success to Vermont.

We will have a weekly newsletter and a biweekly video blog detailing our progress throughout the summer. We will also use a variety social media outlets before and during the project.

11 Responses to “Middlebury Foods”

  1. Charles Leo Sykes says:

    An inspiring and useful project that demonstrates student concern for their Vermont neighbors. You have more than earned our admiration! Charles Sykes, Class of 1957

  2. Chris Eldridge says:

    Just wanted to say that you guys have really done a great job and I am very happy to see you are doing well. You have accomplished something bigger than yourselves, and there is not a lot of people who can do that!
    Congradulations, and thank you.

  3. tomatovt says:

    Please get in touch with us at Vermont Hydroponic Produce. jjones@vermonthydroponic.com thanks

  4. richkidswithnosoul says:

    THis is a prime example of people coming from wealth trying to help those in need because they have nothing better to do and have the funds to do so- what moral gains do you hope to get out of this and why are you doing it? snobs are disgusting and this project that you have is ridiculous and unoriginal. pat.het.ic

    • Harry Zieve Cohen says:

      We are sorry you feel this way. We have spent a great deal of time already on the project, and expect to continue to do so this summer. We care passionately about Vermont, which has been home to all of us for the better part of two years. Some of us have been visiting Vermont our entire lives. We are aware that, as Middlebury College students, we live in a bubble of sorts. This project is our attempt to get out of that bubble and to give back to our community. Why are we doing this? Because we think the program can meaningfully help people. We’ve been in contact with Vermonters during every stage of our work thus far. We know we have a great deal to learn from individuals who have been fighting hunger and malnourishment for decades. Ultimately, however, our model will only work if our product is compelling and appealing. If people like what we’re offering, they’ll buy it. If they don’t, they won’t. Given that we are selling supermarket-quality food at up to 45% off, we feel confident that our project will be successful. Luckily, many generous donors agree. We are incredibly grateful for their support.

    • Chris Eldridge says:

      They started this venture with $11,000… To some, $11,000 is nothing. However, you can almost pay for an entire year of college with $11,000 in other states… In addition, at the time of this post the $11,573 raised from 32 separate people shows an average of $361 donated by each person. Anyone who stopped drinking a coffee they buy from Starbucks for 1 year could save almost double that! (365 days x $2 per cup = $730) Instead, these students are trying to make a difference in the world… with $11k… I went to St. Michael’s College, and I 100% understand the stereotypical bubble that Middlebury Students get put into when they get accepted. However, they also get an awesome education. They have used their education to solve a problem from the get go! You see start-ups getting millions of dollars in investor funding every day… and most of the start-ups fail. However, they turned $11k into a lifelong business plan that makes many more changes than a $1 million could ever do.

  5. Great project, folks. I like to see people starting with the needs of our own people, right here in this country, and your timing is impeccable. Good work. I hope to see tales of your success upcoming!

  6. Bill Redway says:

    Sounds like a worthwhile project. Would you mind explaining what you mean by ‘market-led’ and ‘transaction-based’? Also, where you will you be doing this? You say Vermont, but where in particular?

    • Nathan Weil says:

      Bill – we are in the process of deciding where we will start this summer (Burlington, Rutland, or Middlebury). We have to find the right balance between ease of entry and need/demand. As for ‘market-led’ and ‘transaction-based’ we just mean that our model works to minimize costs, just like any other business. The difference, however, lies in the fact that the gains from this cost-minimzation will not be turned into corporate profit but rather given back to the consumer in the form of lower prices and better savings; we’re truly a non-profit business. Thanks for your interest!

  7. Nial Rele says:

    Best of luck!

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