This Year’s DIY Empty Bowl!

For 23 year s, the Empty Bowl has been our

signature event that raises a significant portion of the

funds we need to feed our neighbors. You can imagine our

quandary when we find our bowl empty and no soup in


As a supporter , we are inviting you to gather in

spirit for this StoneSoupSupper to help us make our

(virtual) bowl runneth over and to share the care we have

for our community and for those who struggle in these

unusual times.

So, dig out that bowl from another year ’s Empty

Bowl and fill it with your favorite soup while you check

off what you will add to our Stone Soup. (And this year no

one will notice if you dribble soup on your shirt.)

Thank you for your past support. We look forward

to sharing soup with you in person in the future. In the

meantime, let’s make a Stone Soup!

To start, please buy your ticket and an imaginary

bowl. Then choose from the ingredients to make our Stone

Soup, with a suggested donation for each. The more

ingredients you add, the more it will nourish those who are

struggling with food insecurity.


Please check what you can add to our Stone Soup.

Ticket(s) $40 $

Bowl(s) $25 $


Celery $5

Onions $10

Cabbage $15

Potatoes $20

Carrots $25

Beef $30

Other Ingredients:

? $

? $

? $

Special Ingredient: Caring about those who struggle to feed themselves and their families. Priceless!

Our Place employees work to offer meals and food to our community.

Dear Friend of Our Place,            

                Like many non-profit social agencies during the current pandemic, we have had to alter our operations dramatically.

                At the end of March, we had to change our operations from welcoming people into our dining room and food pantry to a new To Go meal and food box operation.  It has been a challenging transition, but our dedicated employees are preparing and packaging complete nutritious meals for an average of 45 people each day. We are maintaining an inventory of wholesome food to put together boxes full of groceries for people to take home.  We have added new people to our grocery home delivery program, which, with the help of volunteers, brings food to the homes of about 40 elderly households.

With your support, our team is working each day to ensure that no one who lives in our community struggles with hunger and food insecurity.  Because of the public health and economic crisis, some of the families and individuals in our community will face even more difficulties in making ends meet. Please help us ensure that we are able to help our neighbors in need today and in the future.  

We are grateful for all of the support we have received from people, businesses, community organizations, and foundations during the past 27 years. We are thankful to our board members – past and present – and every volunteer who has cooked, washed dishes, brought groceries to seniors and helped in our garden for their many hours of work and being part of the Our Place family.

For those of you who have made a donation to Our Place during the past few months, we thank you and hope we can count on your continuing support of our work and the people who live in our community.

22nd Annual Empty Bowl Event November 3, 2019

Please join us for our annual Empty Bowl Dinner and Auction at 5:00 pm on November 3 at Alyson’s Orchard in Walpole NH.  Supporters and friends of Our Place Drop-In Center will enjoy a dinner of soups made by local chefs, appetizers and spirits and locally made desert served by our volunteers. There will be a silent and live auction to raise money that supports our food security programs including the food pantry, community meals and grocery home delivery program to seniors.  Empty Bow 2019


Our Place provides help with food and other essential needs to low-income families and individuals. Our employees prepare breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday and serve about 900 meals each month. The food pantry offers a selection of free groceries to an average of 160 different households every month. Our volunteers also deliver 40 bags of nutritious food to seniors who have difficulty with mobility or carrying heavy bags home. We will distribute more than 160,000 pounds of food this year including fresh vegetables, fruit, meat and a variety of grains and dairy items.

The face of hunger has changes in our country and in our region over the last ten years. Chances are that someone you know has made a choice between purchasing food and paying for other essential needs such as heat, gasoline, medicine, rent or mortgage. Many of the people we serve are eligible for the 3 Squares Vermont food benefits, which average $235 per month for the 30,000 households (with about 70,000 people) who receive benefits.

Many of the people we help who are living on a fixed income, such as seniors and people who are disabled, do not have enough income to pay all of their monthly expenses because housing and other cost continue to increase and outpace income.

Vermont has high housing cost and some of the oldest housing stock in the country. Many families spend more than 40% of their household income on housing costs to ensure they have a safe and healthy place for their children; this leaves little money to save for an unexpected event such as an illness, loss of a job or even a car repair. When a family does not have enough money to pay all the monthly bills that must be paid, food is often where they will cut back, as it is the only “flexible” expense.

Our Place employees, board members and volunteers work together with partners to ensure that the people in our communities have reliable access to an adequate supply of nutritious food in our food pantry. We are proud of the quality of the meals that we serve each day and grateful for all of the community support that we receive.



Cars, Cocktails and Conversation Fundraiser

The Commons
Photo 1


Vinnie DiBernardo came appropriately dressed to show off his vintage 1945 Ford F1 pick up truck.


Cars, cocktails, and conversation

Vintage automobiles charge up fundraiser for Our Place

Originally published in The Commons issue #422 (Wednesday, August 23, 2017). This story appeared on page D1.

SAXTONS RIVER—“Cars, Cocktails, and Conversation” was the theme for a fundraiser for Our Place on Aug. 14 in Saxtons River.

The outdoor event featured an impressive assembly of vintage cars, ranging from World War II-era Jeeps to a recreated prototype of the first Land Rover, Britain’s answer to the Jeep.

Jim and Jane Macri, owners of the Land Rover, hosted the vintage car-themed fundraiser at their panoramic hillside home. The event included catering by the Saxtons River Inn and featured classic cars brought by various guests.

The Macris have been longtime supporters of Our Place, a nonprofit that provides food to individuals in need.

“Our Place is a wonderful organization in our community that serves a very big need for people that are having difficulties at a particular time in their life,” Jim Macri said. “It is a very worthwhile organization, one that we like to support, and we have worked with them for years, contributing and supporting their various functions and fundraisers, and we will continue to support them.”

Our Place puts on many events and fundraisers for the community, including the Empty Bowl Dinner and Auction, which will take place on Nov. 5, at Alyson’s Orchard in Walpole, N.H.

The “Cars, Cocktails, and Conversation” theme was created by Jim Macri, and the event was initiated and organized by Sarah Campbell, owner of the Saxtons River Inn.

There were many vintage cars provided by guests of the fundraiser, including a 1965 Ford Thunderbird convertible, 1945 Ford F1 pickup truck, a Jaguar, an MG, and a 1962 Karmann Ghia, as well as Jim Macri’s collection of restored Land Rovers, including the prototype replica that he built from scratch, as the original no longer existed.

In 1947 the Rover’s chief designer, Maurice Wilks, created a prototype with his

associates using Jeep chassis and components. The first Land Rover was officially launched in 1948 at the Amsterdam Motor Show, and the prototype was discarded. It took years, but Macri reconstructed the original prototype of the Land Rover.

Jim Macri’s interest in vintage cars, particularly Land Rovers, started in the 1960s when he was in college. Visiting Martha’s Vineyard, where he met his wife, Jane, he witnessed Land Rovers in action for the first time.

“I loved them and I developed a real craving to buy them, to restore them,” he said. “I didn’t do it immediately, but after about 10 or 15 years I started collecting one and then I got another, and now we have quite a collection, but the original appeal of the vehicle came with my exposure to them on Martha’s Vineyard, a long time ago.”

Macri noted the large concentration of classic cars in the area.

“People love owning and restoring old cars,” he said, “and the work of bringing them back to new condition has a lot of appeal.”

Not only was there a large turnout of old cars, but nearly 100 people in the community attended the fundraiser.

Lisa Pitcher, executive director of Our Place, explained how events like these are “an opportunity to raise awareness about our work and the issues of poverty and food insecurity in our area and across Vermont, where about 70,000 people don’t have regular access to healthy food.”

The event raised $7,500, Pitcher said, with additional pledged donations to buy a new computer and heating oil for Our Place.

“This was the first time that we held a fundraising event at a private home,” Pitcher said, “and we are grateful to Jim and Jane Macri for their generous hospitality. It was a lovely evening and I was happy to see many long-time supporters of Our Place and some new friends coming together to raise money to support our organization.”

Our Place Community Food Programs

Donate to Our Place through Network For Good

Every donation you make to Our Place allows us to offer nutritious food to 2000 unique individuals each year. Some families only need our help once or twice a year when there is an unexpected expense such as a car repair or an illness that leads to less income. Other families need supplemental food each month so that their children are not hungry. Many including seniors and those who have become physically disabled are living on less than $1200 a month. These folks need our help so that they are not malnourished.

Your support allows us to collect, sort, purchase, prepare and distribute about 140,000 pounds of food each year. We strive to offer the most nutritious food possible including donated items such as frozen meat, bread, fruit juice and more than 40,000 pounds of fresh produce from farms, wholesale distributors and the Vermont Foodbank. Every month we  purchase milk, orange juice,  cereal, soups and ingredients for the meals we prepare  and serve in our dining room

While we work to help people meet their essential needs, we are also collaborating with other organizations to inform, connect and take action on the issues and solutions that we believe will help reduce food insecurity in Vermont. Our Place employees and facilities are an essential part of the charitable food system that helps ensure people are not food insecure in southeastern Vermont.

We are grateful for the support we have received from hundreds of people who donate the food and money required to operate Our Place, all of the volunteers who help pick up weekly food donations, unload trucks, wash the dishes and deliver bags of groceries to our senior neighbors. Thank you for helping us help our neighbors in need. Without your generosity, there would be many more hungry and hopeless people living in our community.



Fresh Food at Our Place

In addition to a broad assortment of packaged soups and cereals,canned fruits and vegetables and frozen meats, Our Place offers a selection of fresh vegetables and fruits throughout the year. During the summer and fall we also freeze the fresh farm produce to offer in the winter when we rely on donations of fresh produce from a few wholesaler and retail stores – mainly Black River Produce, and the Vermont Foodbank which collects fresh food from some local stores like Hannafords. We are looking forward to summer when we purchase CSA shares from local farms and share the abundance of produce from our generous farmers.



Healthy Harvest Network – a partnership of seven southern Vermont food shelves

We are working together to make changes to the food collection, purchasing and distribution systems used by our partner food shelves to improve affordability and nutritional quality of the food we distribute to people who don’t have enough income to obtain the food they need to nourish themselves and their families.

The employees and volunteers from seven area food shelves began working together a few years ago to share ideas, resources and to help each other fulfill an increasing need in our communities. The original seven partners include Chester-Andover Family Center Food Shelf, Food Connects, Groundworks Collaborative Food Shelf, Guilford Cares Food Pantry, Our Place Drop-In Center, Putney Foodshelf, Springfield Family Center, and Townshend Community Food Shelf.

We are supported by a grant from the Holt Fund, which has allowed us to purchase a vehicle, pay a coordinator, purchase healthy food from local farms, markets and food producers. The Vermont Food bank is a very valuable resource for all the charitable food shelves and meal sites throughout Vermont and we work closely with the staff in Brattleboro.

Partner with us!

Do you have a restaurant or business that has excess food?

Are you a local farmer we could work with  for gleaning or collecting extra produce?

Interested in joining our gleaning or processing crews?

For more information contact Telos Whitfield or Lisa Pitcher at Our Place Drop-In Center 802-463-2217 or ourplace@sover.net.

You can view our locations and pictures of our members here     HHN membership


Our Place Drop-In Center is back to the Blog

I realized about a month ago that I have not posted to this blog in a very long time. Of course, I have all sorts of reasons…aka excuses. But mainly it comes down to the work we do every day – helping reduce hunger in our community- can be overwhelming at times. It is almost time to welcome Spring in Vermont, although for those of us who live here it still feels like a whisper and a prayer. Since we have been gone a while this blog post is mainly about some of the work we do at Our Place in Bellows Falls VT. More to come – I promise.

Our Place is a daytime drop-in center that offers help with food and other essential needs in a non-judgmental, safe and respectful atmosphere. One of the main goals of Our Place Drop-In Center is to provide an easily accessible source of nutritious food to low-income people who do not have enough income, SNAP benefits or resources to meet the nutritional needs of their families.

Because we serve breakfast and lunch five days a week, we need to source a lot more food than organizations which have food pantry operations only. We prepare and serve and average of 1200 well balanced meals including breakfast and lunch each month. We offer fruit, vegetables, green salad, protein in either a meat or vegetarian dish and often a desert for lunch. Breakfast consist of a variety of bread, cold and hot cereal, fruit , juice as well as eggs a few times each week. On average 165 households ( about 520 people) are served in the food pantry and 45 bags of assorted groceries are delivered by our faithful volunteers to seniors or disabled individuals with limited mobility, who cannot access the food pantry on a regular basis.

Last year we started a new project with the local elementary school. We provided lunches each Friday from July through August (when the summer lunch program operated at the Central Elementary School) for the parents who were there with their young children. The school district has not been able to provide free lunches for the parents for the past couple of years, so we decided to work with them to begin a program one day each week. We prepared bag lunches with sandwiches, salad and fruit, milk or juice. Along with the lunches we offered a variety of fresh produce for the families to take and prepare with home meals. According to the lunch coordinator the families appreciated the fresh food and it all went home with parents for the weekend. The coordinator said she was not from the Bellows Falls area but understood that “there is a big need for fresh produce for these particular families” It was a successful project and we plan to increase the days/volume next year.

We are all looking forward to the summer and fall season of abundance in Vermont; when it feels like we almost have enough to share with our neighbors in need. The Healthy Harvest Network will be planning for the growing season this month and we welcome food producers of all sorts to reach out to us with your surplus food that we can add to our distribution system.

Empty Bowl Dinner and Auction to Benefit Our Place Drop-In Center

After months of preparation, the 16th annual Empty Bowl fundraising event for Our Place was a resounding success. More than 150 people came together for an evening of great food, lively music, and good old fashioned fun. For the past few years, Alyson’s Orchard owner Susan Jasse has generously allowed us to use the beautiful space for our Empty Bowl event – helping to make the evening a special one.

 Soups were donated by Burdick’s in Walpole, Café Loco in Westminster, Kurn Hattin Homes, Murray’s in Walpole, Popolo’s in Bellows Falls, Smokin Bowls in Rockingham , the Saxtons River Inn,  Ed Warner’s famous chili, and the Walpole Tavern.

 The children from the Kurn Hattin Homes school did a great job of passing the appetizers and serving salad and desert to our guests. We thank them for their service and sunny smiles.

 For the first year, and we hope many more, Sharon Boccelli was our auctioneer. She did a great job in helping us hold a very successful auction of items that included a week in a condo in Austria, an original painting by Charlie Hunter, collectibles from the Windham Antique Center, Breakfast at Readmore, Earrings from Silver Forest, King Arthur Flour baking classes, a B&B stay at the 1900 House and the Interlaken Inn, Roots on the River tickets, a bowl from Tsuga studios and much more.

 Thank you to all who donated their time, energy and spirit to make this a wonderful evening and to raise money to fund the work at Our Place Drop-In Center. And a special thanks to our Board of Directors who made it all happen.