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For past decade, suppers have been dishing up food and friendship

This fall marks the 10th Anniversary of the Thursday night community suppers in Francestown, Bennington, Antrim and Hancock, initiated in 2003 by The Grapevine Family & Community Resource Center.

The first supper was served at the First Presbyterian Church in Antrim and featured turkey tettrazini made from scratch by the late John Vance, who roasted the turkeys in the church ovens that day. Today, various organizations host the Antrim suppers on the third Thursday of the month, including the Antrim-Bennington Lions, Avenue A Teen Center, Antrim Police and the Boy Scouts.

On Thursday, Patten Hill Farm will serve chicken enchiladas, Spanish rice and salad, and finish with a dessert made from their own blueberries. Pianist and veterinarian Dr. Tom Dowling will provide dinner music.

Francestown serves the first supper each month, with the next on Oct. 3. Francestown Elementary School is the host, and the menu will follow a “loaf and ladle” theme which, according to organizer Heather Whipple-Simard, is “anything we can make in a pot — soups, stews, chowders, meatballs — with bread, salad and desserts.” Simard and Lori Hardwick-Way have been coordinating the suppers for four years, having accepted the torch from original coordinators Kay Severance and Kay Anderson. Says Simard, “These suppers provide a place for folks to come and eat, meet townspeople they might never meet otherwise, reconnect with old friends and former teachers. Lori and I could not do it without all the groups that provide the food and volunteers.” Francestown suppers are served in the Community Church of Francestown.

Bennington does things a little differently, with a large group of “regulars” contributing to a variety of dishes according to coordinator Michelle Baggaley. A typical menu includes two meat dishes, mashed potatoes, and salads, with assorted casseroles and ‘Sloppy Joe’s’ most months. In addition to Baggaley, monthly contributors include Joyce Sawyer, Janice McKenzie, Robin Manley, Stephanie Mackesey, Diane Johnson, Sheila Clough, Sandy Cleary, Deb Perry, Leslie Hodgen, Rhea Taylor and Diana Beam. Baggaley, who has been organizing the suppers for about a year, wanted to be sure that Michelle Ricco was credited with the first nine years. When Ricco moved away, she stepped in. Pierce Elementary School in Bennington is the site for the supper on the second Thursday of the month

The Hancock suppers are typically hosted by groups in town, with the core organizers — Donna Coty, Holly Wilson, Sandra Faber, Kristin Harris and Barbara Schweigert — pulling a meal together themselves if needed. According to Coty, the community supper is “a wonderful opportunity for people of all ages in the community to gather in a relaxed environment to share a meal and socialize.” As with the suppers in the other three towns, middle schoolers earn Community Service hours by helping set up, serve and clean up. Hosts over the past year include Cornucopia Project, Hancock Elementary School, Hancock Woman’s Club and The Well School. The current organizers took over from the original group of Beth Bradford, Chris Selmer, Mary Seebart and Judy Hertzler. The Hancock suppers are served on the fourth Thursday of the month in the Vestry of the Congregational Church.

SUPPER LINEUP

For more information about the suppers and to volunteer, contact the local coordinators or call The Grapevine at 588-2620. Community suppers, which run from 5:30 to 6:30, are free and open to the public. Donations are requested by not required.

Sept. 19: First Presbyterian Church of Antrim—Patten Hill Farm, host

Sept. 26: Hancock Congregational Church—Hancock Republicans, host

Oct. 3: Community Church of Francestown—Francestown Elementary School, host

Oct. 10: Pierce Elementary School, Bennington

Oct. 17: First Presbyterian Church of Antrim—Bank of New Hampshire, host

Oct. 24: Hancock Congregational Church—Hancock Democrats, host

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