Holiday Giving: Students Serve Up Thanksgiving Dinner

By Jen ThomasPrint Story | Email Story
Volunteers gather around a table at the First Congregational Church on Sunday to prepare Monday morning's Thanksgiving dinner.
NORTH ADAMS – While other students were packing their bags and gearing up for a brief respite from homework and exams, 15 Williams College volunteers were preparing a full Thanksgiving dinner for the Berkshire Food Project on Sunday afternoon. "It's just so amazing how many volunteers showed up to help out," said Valerie Schwarz, the executive director of the Berkshire Food Project. Now in its 20th year, the BFP provides meals five days a week to anyone who wants to stop in at the First Congregational Church. Today, a special holiday dinner will be served, complete with turkey, turnips, cranberry sauce, potatoes and pumpkin pie. The Williams volunteers – recruited to help cook and serve the meal by BFP volunteer co-coordinators Lauren Guilmette, a senior philosophy major, and Laura Huang, a freshman - spent the afternoon chopping potatoes and helping other community volunteers prepare for the festivities. For Guilmette and Huang, bringing together the college with surrounding communities is a way to not only address the problem of hunger but also to make connections with those who live just around the corner. "What really drew me to the program was how it is face-to-face, day-to-day and very hands-on," said Huang. "The concentration is on what's just down the road. We can help out and we should." "We can help tackle hunger here and help the worldwide effort," she added. "This is a pretty easy way to do something and it's immediate and practical," said Guilmette. "It's not just a program about food justice and hunger issues. It's a program for the North Adams community." Founded by Williams College students in 1987, the BFP recently began serving free lunches Mondays through Fridays, after previously only serving three meals a week. With a threefold mission to alleviate hunger, provide a forum for communication among diverse community members and educate area residents on available resources, BFP strives to make a difference in people's lives. "A lot of people don't get a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal and to come and get dinner and share it with all of us is so wonderful for them," said Schwarz. Local farmers and businessmen donated much of the food for today's dinner. Olie Oleson of Florida Mountain donated turnips while Isabella's Restaurant owner Drew Nicastro cooked eight turkeys and seven turkey breasts. Even Greylock Elementary schoolchildren lent a helping hand, creating a dozen turkey centerpieces for each table out of paper and pipe cleaners. What's really special about the Berkshire Food Project is that it's so multilayered. Sure, people who might not have a Thanksgiving dinner are getting a Thanksgiving dinner, but it's not about that as much as it's about the town having dinner together," said Guilmette. "We're managing to deal with the problem of hunger while also working on community-building. It starts to feel more and more like a family when you share meals." All are welcome to attend today's Thanksgiving dinner, served at First Congregational Church at 11:30. For more information on the BFP, visit www.berkfoodproj.org .
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North Adams School Committee Seeks Candidates for Vacant Seat

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The School Committee and City Council hope to fill the vacancies on their respective boards next week. 
 
The committee at its regular meeting Tuesday agreed to request statements of interest from prospective candidates. The deadline for letters of interest is Monday, Aug. 10, at 4 p.m. at nrauscher@napsk12.org.
 
The committee will convene on Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. with the City Council for a joint vote on a replacement candidate. The council will reconvene at 7:30 to vote on a candidate to fill its own vacancy.  
 
The two governmental seats were left vacant by the resignation of Robert Moulton Jr., who last November was returned to the council after an absence and elected to a first term on the School Committee.
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