Catalytic converter theft impacts the hungry

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – The recent theft of the catalytic converter from the van used by Our Place Drop-in Center is proving to be more than just an inconvenience. “We use the van to pick up large boxes of food for our food pantry through the Everyone Eats program,” said the center’s director, Lisa Pitcher. “Now we are scrambling to find volunteers with vehicles large enough to bring the donations to the center.”

Pitcher said the center is serving record numbers of people with 2,079 breakfasts and lunches served in September, an average of 99 a day. In addition, 82 different households representing 221 people, including 59 children, accessed the food pantry.

The van is also used to pick up donations from local farms and grocery stores such as Pete’s Stand, Shaw’s, Black River Produce, and the Vermont Country Store.

“We count on it so our employees don’t have to use their own cars,” she said.

The converter was stolen in early August, but replacements are in short supply because so many have been stolen, and the back up at the docks has made them hard to come by.

“Our insurance covered a rental van for a while, but continuing the rental is too expensive for us,” she said.

Our Place is now soliciting volunteers who can help the center meet its transportation needs, even for only a couple of hours once a week, by contacting them at 802-463-2217 or

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