Stone Soup fills Empty Bowls

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – Calling up an old folktale about making something out of nothing, Our Place Drop-in Center has reconfigured its signature Empty Bowl fundraiser into a do-it-yourself event.

Instead of gathering to share soup donated by local chefs and restaurants, bid in live and silent auctions and take home a handcrafted bowl, would-be attendees are being invited to buy a ticket and a bowl and pay to add items to an imaginary soup, all by mail.

The Stone Soup Supper is based on the story of a stranger who shows up in a village and asks for food and a place to sleep. When the wary villagers tell him they have little food, he draws them out by starting a soup with just a stone and musing on how good it would be with a cabbage and a few other vegetables added. Of course, with each one adding one item, they soon have a nutritious meal for everyone.

Our Place is hoping fond memories of prior Empty Bowl events will encourage former attendees to add to this year’s imaginary stone soup and tempt others to get involved. “This would have been our 23rd Empty Bowl,” said event organizer and OP board member Louise Luring, “but, of course, we can’t hold it due to the pandemic.”

The yearly event is one of the food pantry’s major fundraising events, so its loss will take a big bite out of the nonprofit’s operating budget just when the numbers of those seeking groceries and meals are rising.

“Each year, we serve an average of 9,000 meals and provide 175,000 pounds of canned goods, produce, and other products to 130 families, plus deliveries of boxes of food to 34 homebound seniors,” she said, “and we see that number increasing as other sources of aid decrease.”

Anyone wishing to take part in the Stone Soup Supper can contact Our Place at 802-463-2217,, or through its Facebook page.

Our Place is a daytime shelter and food pantry located at 4 Island St. whose mission is to offer help with food and other essential needs in a nonjudgmental, safe, and respectful atmosphere. It serves families in Rockingham and the surrounding area.

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