Northwest Youth Corps Food Program


We strive to provide meals that are nutritious, plentiful, and enjoyable for each of our participants during their time in the field.  Food boxes are thoughtfully designed to ensure participants have access to a variety of nutritional food sources in quantities that will sustain energy levels for an active work day. Our Field Cook Book provides detailed instructions and suggestions for meal planning and preparation, as well as educational guides for basic nutrition principals, sanitation, equity regarding dietary alternatives, and culinary science. Family-style meals are an integral aspect of the Northwest Youth Corps Program which offer opportunities to develop life skills and build community.


Our food program served over 47,000 meals to youth and staff last year. Food is purchased in bulk, sorted, packed and delivered to crews in various locations across the Northwest. In one field season, our participants and staff can consume roughly 1,000 pounds of spaghetti noodles and over 1,500 pounds of cheese! Northwest Youth Corps is one of the few youth corps programs to have a hands-on food program. Due to this tremendous undertaking, Northwest Youth Corps does charge a food fee.


So where does your food fee go?


Your food fee goes predominantly towards direct food costs. Northwest Youth Corps purchases as many items in bulk as possible to help keep costs low. Additionally, there is a number of other costs incurred by NYC’s food program. These include the wages and benefits of a full time nutrition coordinator, whose duties span product ordering and shopping, forging and maintaining vendor relationships, preparing trail mix, conducting weekly inventories, overseeing dietary needs, liaising with crew leaders and woodsbosses, repackaging bulk foods, and packing boxes and coolers.


The food program also provides and maintains all the kitchen equipment required to prepare and serve food in the field. The food fee contributes to the costs associated with stoves, pots, pans, plates, bowls, utensils, tables, coolers, back county stoves, and other equipment needed for a camp kitchen.


Lastly, there are costs associated with maintaining the physical space needed for the food program including electricity, janitorial costs, water, maintenance of walk-in coolers and refrigerators, and vehicle costs associated with food transportation.


What type of food options are there for different meal times?



Fruit, granola, oatmeal, eggs, hash-browns, pancakes, French toast, tofu scramble, bagels and cream cheese, along with a variety of other options.



Sandwiches, wraps, and pita pockets filled with either deli meat, peanut butter and jelly, hummus and vegetable, tuna, or chicken salad. Summer sausage, cheese, crackers, and chips. Fresh fruits and vegetables (commonly apples, oranges, bananas, snap peas, and bell peppers).



Pasta, hamburgers, hot dogs, burritos, stir fry, soup, chili, pizza, baked potatoes, steamed or fried vegetables, curry, salad, and a variety of other combinations which focus on high carbohydrate intake and balanced protein, fiber, and fat sources.



Cookies, graham crackers, raisins, marshmallows, candied fruits, and brownies


What kinds of Vegetarian options are provided?

Some alternative and supplemental protein options that we send out include (but are not limited to): Hummus, falafel, hemp burgers, Tofurky deli meats or other deli meat substitutes, a variety of beans including garbanzo, textured vegetable protein, tofu, and tempeh. With every meal there is always a vegetarian option available. Some Vegetarian dishes found in our cook book are Cajun Beans and Rice, Lentil Chili, Pizza, Quesadillas, Quinoa Curry, and Falafel.


Dietary Restrictions and Food Allergies

Allergies to foods such as nuts, seeds, dairy, or gluten can place individuals at serious risk of anaphylaxis, a life threatening reaction.  At a minimum, food allergies can make for a very unpleasant experience. There is always a risk of contact with nuts, seeds, dairy, and gluten during participation in our field programs. For this reason, youth who experience severe food allergies will be recommended to our non-residential programs.


Northwest Youth Corps strives to accommodate a variety of dietary restrictions, and has recently expanded our Oregon based programs to provide dairy-free meal options and dairy replacements. In fact, there are a variety of menu options within our Field Cook Book that exclude meat, dairy, and gluten, and we heavily encourage leaders to ensure alternative diets are accommodated through guided meal planning and educational resources regarding nutrition. Unfortunately, accommodation of some dietary restrictions cannot be promised, particularly in our more remote office bases, due to a scarcity of vendors. It is paramount that you record any dietary restrictions you/your child may need accommodated while at NYC within the Medical History Intake form on the application portal, so we can do our best to make accommodations. For further questions regarding our food program, please call or e-mail us at the contact information listed at the bottom of this page.  


What is the difference between Front Country and Back Country food?


We distinguish between Front Country and Back Country food based on the location of a crew’s campsite. A Front Country crew will have a standard kitchen setup, including a griddle, coolers, and propane, along with lots of pots and pans. Front Country camps can accommodate a wider variety of food options, similar to what you would find in a super market, with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products.


A Back Country crew may be required to hike several miles to reach their camp site. All food and kitchen supplies will be hiked in in packs. These crews will utilize an adapted menu to minimize pack weight. Most dinners in the back country include key grains such as rice, pasta, and quinoa along with powdered eggs, dry salami, kielbasa, canned meats, dehydrated tomato sauce and other dehydrated vegetables, and beans. TVP (textured vegetable protein) is a lightweight, nonperishable substitute for meat products in the back country. Back country menus are designed to offer a wide variety of protein, fiber, carbohydrate, and vitamin sources that are easily transported and predominantly non-perishable.