Our Lady’s Kitchen volunteers are serving lunches and dinners in Randolph and Bethel with the help of a grant from the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation.

The free hot meals for anyone in the communities take place at Our Lady of the Angels Church in Randolph for dinner on the third Thursday of each month and at Our Lady of the Valley Parish’s St. Anthony Church in Bethel for lunch on the first Tuesdays. The Randolph meal is paired with a movie night.

“Both have really good food,” said Father Scott Gratton, pastor of both parishes.

The Bethel meal usually serves about 50-55 guests; about 35-40 are served in Randolph.

Sometimes volunteers bring people to the meals or deliver meals to those who cannot get to the church.

Our Lady’s Kitchen ministry began in the summer and has received support from the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation in the amount of $5,000. Some of those funds are earmarked for a greenhouse to be used to grow fresh food all year to help people who are food insecure. Father Gratton hopes the greenhouse will be completed in the spring.

According to the grant application the pastor submitted, the gardening and hot meal programs involve volunteers from the parishes and the local community and are used to teach the youth of the parishes how to serve the poor and to “set their hearts on fire with love for serving Jesus Christ in the poor.”

The meals are not only for those who are food insecure; Father Gratton said many people are in need but necessarily for food — perhaps they are lonely and would like to share a meal with others, he said.

“We are serving human beings and reminding them they have dignity, and that goes for everyone — parishioners, the lonely, elders, people who are hungry,” he said.

—Originally published in the Winter 2022 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.