Barbecue to Benefit Vermont Food Bank

Mar 28 2008
Howard Weiss-Tisman, Reformer Staff

A weekend fundraiser hopes to bring the community together, one bite at a time.

On Saturday, between 4 and 7 p.m. at the Waypoint Center in Bellows Falls, Chroma Technology is hosting a preseason barbecue to benefit the Vermont Foodbank.

For $25 an adult can buy a ticket which will get them a burger, hot dog or vegetarian barbecue plate. With each ticket sold someone from the area who cannot afford to donate will be given a free meal.

All of the money raised will be donated to the Vermont Foodbank, a statewide trucking network that picks up large quantities of food and helps deliver it to food shelves around the state.

Chroma president Paul Millman said Saturday's event is a way to help increase a donation the company gave to the food bank. Instead of just writing a check to the food bank, Millman said he wanted to help host an event that could raise twice, or three times what his company would otherwise have given.

"I've been thinking about this for a long time and I am hoping that people are going to want to come out for a barbecue with winter still here," Millman said. "Instead of just giving a donation we are hoping to make more than the donation would have."

The barbecue on Saturday will be held under a heated tent and will feature music by The Fretnaughts, a bluegrass band.

Kate Guerrina, marketing director at Chroma Technology, said Our Place Drop-In Center, the Bellows Falls area food shelf, will have a list of clients. For every ticket sold, a client will receive a free meal at the barbecue. The tickets will look exactly alike, so not only will the food bank receive the money from the event, but Our Place clients will also get to enjoy the music and food.

"We are trying to see this as a way to effect change," said Guerrina. "Every ticket sold is going to help a client who wouldn't be able to afford to go to a fundraiser like this. We know that at least half the people who eat there will be receiving their tickets because of other donations."

"This event is a great community builder," said Judy Stermer, communication specialist for the Vermont Foodbank. "Bellows Falls, as a community, has a lot of people who are living on the edge and this helps raise awareness about something that is happening in our backyard."

The Vermont Foodbank travels to every corner of the state, and almost every organization that provides food to the hungry gets some help from the food bank. But Stermer said people still don't understand what they do and she said events like Saturday's barbecue are a way to spread the word about their work.

"We are seeing more and more need. The cost of living is up. Fuel is up. Food is up. Housing is up," she said. "A big part of fund raising is not only raising funds but getting people together who may not know about the food bank." According to Millman the event will help bring awareness to hunger in the community in another way.

Plenty of people give money and time to area social service groups, but on Saturday, clients of the food shelf will share a burger and hot dog with other area residents who might not otherwise get a chance to sit down and talk with someone who is struggling.

"Our intent is to make this available to people who normally can't come to an event like this," he said. "I think neighbors, regardless of economic status, should know each other. Being a neighbor is a mutual phenomena. It is not something any one group in society has a lock on."

Tickets for Saturday's barbecue are available at The Village Booksellers in Bellows Falls.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman [at] reform-er [dot] com This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.