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.


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