Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) is a unique and innovative organization that benefits Vermonters on many levels. Using public health, agriculture and conservation as vehicles for youth development, VYCC creates positive change on issues such as food access and insecurity, hunger, health, water quality, habitat restoration, youth unemployment, and workforce development. Hunger and access to fresh, healthy food is a pressing concern in Vermont. Hunger Free Vermont reported that more than 84,000 people, including 27,000 children, live in food-insecure households. VYCC’s Health Care Share program was established to address this issue head on. VYCC youth crews produce organic vegetables and pastured poultry on the VYCC farm in Richmond. The food is delivered weekly during the growing season, to health centers around the state that “prescribe” healthy food for patients and families who suffer from hunger, lack access to fresh produce and poultry, and/or suffer from a diet-related illness. VYCC is also well-known for our Conservation Program that puts youth to work on Vermont’s public lands. Projects range in complexity from pulling invasive species along floodplains to building trail bridges and leantos. Spending time in the woods, mountains, and rivers of Vermont allows Corps Members to learn the true impact we have on our land and what we can do to protect our natural resources. Working with crew leaders and alongside peers, Corps Members have continuous opportunities for self-improvement, and professional success. Most are from Vermont, and many face challenges such as poverty, inadequate educational preparation, and disabilities.
Based on community needs identified through medical providers, we intend to increase the Health Care Share program’s impact each year. However, accomplishing this goal requires hiring more youth and young adults to sow, harvest, package and deliver an increased number of food shares. A We Care 2 donation would directly help fund this growth in order to reach more Vermonters suffering from food insecurity and health issues, while providing more paying jobs to young people in our communities.