Rally for Change
As Vermont’s oldest independent environmental advocacy organization, the Vermont Natural Resources Council works from the grassroots to the Legislature to advance policies, programs and practices that strengthen the foundation upon which Vermont’s economy thrives — vibrant communities and healthy downtowns, clean and abundant fresh water, working farms and forests, wild places, a healthy population, clean energy, and climate action.
We take our role as a Council seriously, convening diverse groups around the issues to ensure more voices are at the table, and a wide range of viewpoints are heard and understood. We also work to educate and activate Vermonters around the state, and rely on our members and activists to help us on issues such as removing unwanted dams, ensuring our forests remain intact and healthy, cleaning up our polluted lakes and rivers, and removing toxins from our soils and waters.
Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) provides a safe and inclusive space for young people to work hard, learn, grow, and contribute. The Conservation and Food & Farm programs offer a variety of experiences that meet young people, from a range of backgrounds, where they are in their learning and comfort level. As Corps Members build skills they can progress to more challenging experiences and responsibilities that are transferable to many career pathways.
Corps Member Karli Robertson (she/her/they/them) explained that they loved “to get down in the dirt, connect with the earth and with people.” They shared that, “It feels really good to be doing work that helps people access nature and helps provide Vermonters with food…I’ve appreciated everything I’ve learned with VYCC. It’s been a solid work experience, team experience, and skill building experience.”
Corps Members (ages 15 and up) within VYCC’s Food & Farm program build leadership, teamwork, and communication skills as they earn a paycheck and accomplish vital work that leads to the success of the Health Care Share project – a farm to hospital public health initiative. Corps Members work together in small teams to plant, grow, harvest, pack, and deliver fresh organic vegetables, fruits, and poultry, while increasing food security through the state’s largest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).
Each year, the Health Care Share enrolls over 400 households to received fresh produce, nutrition education, recipes, and food storage tips. VYCC partners with Medical Centers and family practices, who identify households in Chittenden, Washington, Caledonia, and Orleans counties that face barriers to accessing fresh food and/or diet related illnesses. Families and individuals pick up their free “share” of the VYCC harvest each week at their doctor’s office from late June to September, and monthly October to December. A 2020 Health Care Share Member explained that “The Health Care Share gave me access to vegetables I would not have tried. It allowed me to have more healthy food choices in my home.”
Food for the Health Care Share is grown on VYCC’s main campus, a 9-acre farm in Richmond, as well as Bluffside farm in Newport.
How can you get involved?
- Come for a fun day of volunteering! Youth crews have come to a close and we are looking for extra hands this September. We would love your help on the farm in our work toward the Health Care Share. Visit vycc.org for more details or sign up for a shift here.
- Visit our farm stand in Richmond for some fresh veggies! Check for weekly updates on our Instagram page with information and details about what is in the stand.
Over the last year, Feeding Chittenden has pivoted from a congregate meal site to curbside pickup of pre-bagged and boxed groceries, as well as increased deliveries to older adults, people who have a disability, are sick or injured, or are unable to leave their home. Additionally, a hotline for emergency deliveries was created to get immediate hunger relief to households who could not visit our location and had nowhere else to turn for help.
In response to the inquiry around expanding food access, Feeding Chittenden is evolving from a Food Shelf to a Food Access Center, with the intent to reduce barriers for vulnerable Vermonters in need of assistance, including New Americans, Veterans, people of color, people experiencing homelessness, and children. Feeding Chittenden is helping to coordinate communities of practice around culturally responsive foods with the intent of introducing a more inclusive, human centered approach to food distribution. Our order-ahead online system will allow community members to go to our website, select the foods that best meet their needs, and then schedule a time to pick up groceries at our location in the Old North End or have them delivered right to their door. We are currently piloting this initiative with other programs within Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, our parent organization.
While our Food Shelf is our flagship program, we also operate the following programs and services:
- Grocery Delivery: helping older adults and people who stay at home due to limited mobility or fragile health access our services through deliveries of groceries and prepared meals
- Food Rescue: fighting food waste locally by working with local markets and farmers to save ~10,000 lbs of edible, nutritious food every month
- Hot Meal Program: providing hot to-go meals each weekday morning
- Community Kitchen Academy: providing culinary job training and support to people who are un-employed through a partnership with the Vermont Foodbank
- Good Food Truck: serving meals, groceries and outreach services in collaboration with our CKA program
- Service Coordination: providing program referrals, case work and support to our guests who need additional services.