RICHMOND, Vt. — A bit of rain, wind and clouds did not hinder the staff of FoodScience Corp. from swarming the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps’ 400-acre campus in Richmond last week for a fall day full of inspiration, synergy and hard work.
FoodScience Corp. — a Williston-based developer and manufacturer of nutritional supplements for animals and humans — was closed on Wednesday, Oct. 2, so that all 170 employees could help tackle an extensive wish list of projects that the VYCC wanted to complete before this winter and the 2020 spring growing season. Much of the work focused on ways to help the VYCC’s Food and Farm Program.
The event marked FoodScience Corp.’s second-annual recognition of Good Neighbor Day, which was held nationally on Sept. 28 to observe the importance of neighbors helping neighbors. Wearing T-shirts and hats that said Good Neighbor Day — and muck boots where applicable — FoodScience employees repaired greenhouses; gleaned, cleaned and stored vegetables; and refurbished decks and walkways (to name a few projects) from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
From 4-8 p.m., second-shift employees from FoodScience Corp. joined CEO Sharon Rossi and Tammy Johnson, director of human supplements division at the Burlington Salvation Army, where they served meals for guests that evening and then cooked and froze a homemade pasta dinner for 60 that the Salvation Army will serve in the future. FoodScience Corp. also donated $500 to the VYCC as a Good Neighbor Day surprise.
Dom Orlandi, whose family founded FoodScience Corp. in Vermont in 1972, said Good Neighbor Day was particularly important this year because their company and the VYCC are aligned culturally and through their mission statements, which are to educate people about being healthy and to help them stay healthy.
“It’s fun to be here today,” Rossi said, while taking a short break from gleaning and composting carrots in one of the VYCC’s gardens. “There was greater anticipation among our employees this year. They knew of the spirit and heart that we were bringing to it this year.”
Last fall, FoodScience Corp. shut down on Good Neighbor Day to work at Camp Hochelaga, a summer camp in South Hero that annually hosts 600 to 800 girls ages 6-17 from all over Vermont, the U.S. and the world. Good Neighbor Day 2018 was FoodScience Corp.’s inaugural community engagement project, and it was part of an ongoing mission to modernize and adapt the company’s culture. For example, Good Neighbor Day now happens instead of the “company picnic.”
When FoodScience Corp. sought a partner for Good Neighbor Day 2019, the company needed a non-profit that made a difference in its community and with a campus large enough to keep 170 people busy for a full workday. Ultimately, FoodScience Corp. chose to help relieve the VYCC, so that the VYCC could focus more on meeting future goals. Both groups also chose to work together because they empower youth — FoodScience Corp. through its mission to support children’s well-being to produce healthy children, and the VYCC through its mission to empower young people through hands on learning and employment on outdoor projects that matter.
Every year, the VYCC employs about 250 seasonal employees ages 15-26 on conservation and farming projects around Vermont, such as the construction of off trails and the production of a vegetable farm. Through its Food and Farm Program, the VYCC also operates the Health Care Share project, a nationally award-winning effort that provides 400 families with prescription farm shares through their medical providers.
“I’m perpetually inspired by the way young people want to work together and make the world a better place,” said Breck Knauft, VYCC executive director. “They light a spark that’s fun and empowering to be around.”
Knauft said FoodScience Corp.’s work at the VYCC was “phenomenal.” He said, “Sharon (Rossi) and the crew at FoodScience clearly get it. They are making us feel like we are connected to a greater community, and it puts wind in our sails.”
Susie Walsh Daloz, Food and Farm director, said FoodScience Corp. helped the VYCC save time and money on projects that might have otherwise gone neglected for another year.
“These are the things we’d be kicking ourselves for next spring because they didn’t get done this fall,” said Walsh Daloz. “The work that FoodScience Corp. is doing today helps buoy our final month of work before we head into the cold months.”