[This speech was given at a Vermont Youth Conservation Corps farm site on June 17, 2015 by Terry Redmond, Director of Support Services at UVM Health Network – Central Vermont Medical Center.]
In 2012 Dr. Marvin Malek, a local physician known for his social activism, approached Judy Tartaglia, the CEO of The University of Vermont Health Network Central Vermont Medical Center, about an initiative underway at the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. As a strong supporter of VYCC’s programs, Dr. Malek wanted to see if CVMC would partner with VYCC to expand their summer Health Care Share program at CVMC.
The story of VYCC and their purpose of growing local healthy produce and distributing that produce to food insecure families interested Judy as well as the senior management team at CVMC. The VYCC cause and the mission of CVMC—to “work collaboratively to meet the needs and improve the health of the residents of Central Vermont”—was an ideal partnership and remains so to this day.
It is an excellent example of a collaborative effort between like-minded people working together to achieve a goal. That goal is to improve the health of the local community through food security.
The philanthropic idea of investing in food shares that were to be distributed weekly to designated drop off points quickly caught on to the generous employees of CVMC, and through payroll deduction our staff was able to do what they felt was right and contribute to the cause. A food share is purchased for $250 but even partial shares could be purchased.
The development of the food share program was not without bumps in the road, but that did not hinder our partnership; if anything the process of working together to solve systemic issues brought the team closer together.
Soon we were developing other ways to gather funds to support the program. A team of staff members were brought together to brainstorm ways to increase the availability of the food shares.
- Not long after the team got together they were conducting silent auctions. CVMC staff reached out to supply vendors and local businesses that were eager to give items for the auction. Conti oil gave fuel, Onion River Sports equipment, gift certificates for restaurants and spas were collected, as well as hand stitched quilts, artwork from a local physician, and much more. The auctions generated another 5 shares yearly to give.
- A Fun Run was established to bring in more donations. Last year was the first annual CVMC fun run, a 5 mile walk/ run around Berlin Pond in which the proceeds were donated to the Healthcare share program. This year on June 27th will mark the second annual event at berlin pond, so for you runners there is plenty of time to sign up!
- Last year also marked the first annual Farm to Table dinner coordinated by the chef at Woodridge Rehab and Nursing Home, Mike Kennedy. The dinner was held at the local Elks lodge in Montpelier and featured menu items centered on the produce and products raised at the VYCC farm.
- The kitchen at CVMC purchases produce wholesale from VYCC to resell at a weekly farmers market, or use in the patient and cafeteria menus. All of the wholesale proceeds from the purchases go back into the food share program.
My favorite part of this collaboration is what I am to speak to next. We have all heard the saying, “give a man a fish he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for life.” The adage is not just about teaching someone to fish; it is more importantly about letting the person keep their dignity. While we are not in the business of teaching people to garden, as that is not always possible, we are about letting people keep their dignity.
VYCC and CVMC accomplish this by using confidential referrals by physicians, nurses and employers for families in need. We understand that any family at any time could be put in a situation of food insecurity. This is a program that does not judge. It is a program that along with the food shares gives recipes on how to use the specific ingredients in the weekly share received. CVMC also lends out our kitchen and equipment during the peak harvest to VYCC to teach people that receive the shares how to prepare, cook and even store their foods so that the healthy foods received can be prepared in a healthy way.
Total Amount Raised
(plus $4,000 in grants)
2015 (to date)
So on behalf of Central Vermont Medical Center I would like to thank all of our supporters of this great program!