Filling bowls event to support Deerfield Valley Food Pantry


WILMINGTON -- Dinner, dessert and music, anyone?

Local groups are getting together to host Wilmington's first Empty Bowls event, in which they hope to raise a significant amount of funds that will assist the Deerfield Valley Food Pantry.

"It's always such a big undertaking to take on a new project," said Brattleboro Music Center Managing Director Pam Lierle. "This is the type of thing we see expanding and growing. It will be a great time to bring attention to the pantry and all the people they serve."

On March 29, Empty Bowls will come to Wilmington. It is a national movement created in order to help feed the hungry. Brattleboro holds its own Empty Bowls event, usually in October, to benefit the Brattleboro Area Drop In Center. In Bellows Falls, the event occurs in November and supports Our Place Drop-In Center.

The Wilmington dinner will be served from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Twin Valley High School. The concert will start at 7:30 p.m. at St. Mary's Episcopal Church at 13 E. Main Street, where dessert will be served.

"This is the first one in Wilmington," said Lierle. "We're happy to be in on the ground floor. It's quite exciting in that manner."

Tickets for dinner cost $10 for an individual and $25 maximum for a family. Donations will be accepted for the concert and dessert.

Soups available during the event include Folly Food's clam chowder, Dot's Restaurant's tomato and cheddar, Sandy Wirstrom's lentil soup, Betty Appel's Hamburg soup, Irma Bartlett's clam chowder and the Matterhorn Inn's pickle soup. Various types of breads will also be served.

Volunteers from the pantry solicited local artisans so that bowls can be taken home. The items were donated by Will Finkel, John McLeod, Karen Horten, Twin Valley High School and Twice Blessed thrift store.

"We tried to make it a whole evening out," said Lierle. "This is significantly inexpensive. Accessibility is a major concept of this. We tried to keep it affordable so the whole community could come out and support it."

Reverend Mary Dorey and the Brattleboro Music Center collaborated to put the event on along with the pantry. Musicians who offered to perform at no cost include violinist Michelle Liechti, violinist Bob Hancock, cellist Pedro Pereira, pianist Barbara Lipstadt as well as others who will play instruments such as the viola, flute, french horn, trombone and tuba.

According to a press release, all proceeds will benefit the food pantry, "whose mission is to ensure that no one in the area goes needlessly hungry or lacks the basics for personal care. The food pantry provides food and other items to all those who ask for assistance, relying on donations of food items, the financial support of local churches, towns, organizations and individuals, plus an annual membership drive to make sure their shelves are never empty."

Jeanne MacDougall, a volunteer at the pantry, told the Reformer that they have recently seen an increase of need for the pantry within the community. She cited the flooding during Tropical Storm Irene and the economy.

"The town on the surface looks like it's quite well recovered but there are still people who are struggling because of things that have happened to them in the flood. We are still feeling the after effects of the flood," she said. "The economic downturn has affected us. We've seen people we haven't seen before."

The pantry serves approximately 100 families in the region. There is no criteria necessary or income level to enter the program.

"We're not big enough to feed all our clients for a month," she said. "What we do is supplement what they already have available. It is a supplemental food program, not to meet all dietary and food needs. It is to help them make what they have go a little further."

The Deerfield Valley Food Pantry serves residents from East Dover, West Dover, Halifax, Jacksonville, Marlboro, Readsboro, Searsburg, Whitingham and Wilmington. To donate or for more information, visit

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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