The Health Care Share program of the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) connects food insecure Vermonters to nutritional education, medical care, and fresh, healthy, local food. For 12 weeks, families receive 12 pounds of produce each week, plus two pasture-raised chickens from the VYCC farm. For the first time this year, the Vermont Foodbank added fresh produce as well as staple foods, such as flour, beans, and rice to the share packages.

As partners in the program, the Central Vermont Medical Center, Fletcher Allen Health Care, and Richmond Family Medicine identified families in need of Health Care Share. This year 260 Vermont families — approximately 1,000 individuals — benefited from the program during the summer and fall. Some recipients were employees of medical centers, and most were patients. Many were new Americans, while others have been in Vermont for generations. Dr. Hannah Rabin of Richmond Family Medicine describes two recipient families:

One family is actually an old Vermont farming family. They grow meat and at some point in history probably grew vegetables for themselves but don’t do that anymore. Their diet really lacked vegetables, and  the Health Care Share made a huge difference in their nutrition. Another family has been living out of their car, and the Health Care Share has been a real lifeline for them.

All at-risk youth engaged on VYCC’s farm were also given a Health Care Share. Participants not only received produce but also learned more about maintaining a healthy diet: how to shop on a budget; how to find local, healthy food; and how to cook and store produce. Weekly newsletters included recipes, and Hunger Free Vermont’s Learning Kitchen course was available to 30 participants. Health Care Share also helped medical center partners connect families to nutrition therapy services.

Partnerships like this would not be possible without the support of our donors.  You can help our neighbors in need by giving to the Vermont Foodbank today.