Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: Vail Valley Salvation Army is filling empty bowls, food pantry |

Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: Vail Valley Salvation Army is filling empty bowls, food pantry

Tricia Swenson
Off the Hill

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In an area as affluent as the Vail Valley, it’s hard to believe that hunger exists. Surprisingly, nearly 500 households utilize the Vail Valley Salvation Army’s food pantry every month.

Empty Bowls was started eight years ago to help supplement the cost of replenishing the shelves at the food bank. This lunch a la soup kitchen features some of the valley’s favorite restaurants serving up soups, homemade bread and delicious desserts. Some of the flavors included lobster bisque, roasted butternut squash and tomato cheddar.

Diana Mathias, of Slifer Smith and Frampton Real Estate, discovered this event while visiting friends in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and thought, “why not bring this concept to Vail?” The community pitched in and 100 percent of the ticket price goes to the food pantry.

The Vail Salvation Army’s symbolic red kettle campaign that you see at area grocery stores around the holidays earns quite a bit of the money needed to replenish the food bank, but with the need being so great, the shelves get a little bare this time of year.

“Our community is so generous and there is an outpouring of generosity around the holidays. This event adds a boost during a time of year the pantry really needs some help,” said Terri Reichert, of the organizing committee.

Along with the meal, there are beautiful pottery bowls for each participant to take home. Handcrafted by local potters, these empty bowls signify hunger in our valley.

The event has increased in popularity over the years and has been moved to the Battle Mountain High School cafeteria to hold the crowds that attend.

Beyond food, the Vail Valley Salvation Army also provides assistance with rent, utilities, prescriptions and emergency transport. Sometimes a medical crisis or a sudden loss of a job can be the one thing that determines needing the assistance of the Salvation Army or not.

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