Comfort Food, Delicious Social Action

We at The Bearcamp Center believe that abundant, nutritious and delicious food is a right and not a privilege. For more than a decade, our kitchen has been a food hub, serving up weekly Farmers’ Table lunches, summer dinners, our annual Giving Thanks and holiday feasts, and a wide variety of themed, multi-course dinners, all made from the most lush and delicious foods we can source as close to home as possible.

In order to maximize accessibility, our meals are served on a by-donation basis, asking diners to pay what (or if) they can or what they believe the food is worth to our community.

We are excellent cooks and offer a wide variety of selections which tempt many. Those with means contribute a “market value” donation–paying it forward–and those without enjoy a subsidized meal. Because the variety and quality of the food entices folks from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds, our donation system allows anonymity and we reduce the stigma associated with being seen accessing a support service.

At the outset of the pandemic, in March 2020, our kitchen went into full production to make meals for our community. We retrofitted our farm stand with freezers and a refrigerator stocked with 500+ meals each week, offered by donation with the guideline to pay “what you can or what you think the meal is worth to you or our community.” Through this program, we supported those suffering from economic downturns brought on by wide-spread shutdowns; those who feared due to the unpredictability of viral contagion the most basic chores of shopping for groceries; and our neighbors who simply craved the emotional sustenance good food lovingly-prepared can bring to a table. Local farmers and producers donated goods, folks with means sent funds to underwrite the program, and many bellies were filled.

With more than 47,000 meals served to date from our licensed kitchen,
we are shifting our focus from pandemic need to addressing the pervasive reality of hunger in central Carroll County.

Our meals are prepared with a wide variety of ingredients, often using fresh produce donated by or purchased from local farms such as Mountain Heartbeet, Chestnut Meadow Farm, Tanna Farm, Moulton Farm, Windover Farm, and the NH Mushroom Company, to name a few. Friends and neighbors offer eggs and groceries to our stores, helping us to create a wide variety of recipes to tempt many palates.

Meals are served from a dedicated room with its own clearly-labelled entrance on our front porch. We advertise on local chat groups and social media when we’ve restocked, with a short description of the menu. Meal ingredients are labelled on each portion, with allergens highlighted. Folks can come by any time at all to pick up a meal. We ask that meals taken are logged, with donation amount (if a donation is possible). All meals are fully-cooked and need only be reheated to eat!

Donations keep these meals coming! The food is for all who need or want it; donations from those who have more cash to spare offset the meals for those without much disposable income.

Many people bring shelf-stable groceries and household items to stock our ShareShelf, providing extra food and goods for those who need to supplement their household budgets.

Grant funding and donations pay for a cook to expand our meal prep; private funds have been donated to upgrade our kitchen, adding two commercial convection ovens, a commercial reach in, a commercial fridge, and two new freezers!

Support for and from our community members is at the heart of our model. Thank you to participants and contributors alike!

Big thanks to the New Hampshire Charitable Fund, Meredith Village Savings Bank, Granite United Way, the Town of Tamworth, NH Food Bank, Walmart of Conway, Eversource, Heart and Home, Food and Nutrition Resources Foundation, and many, many individuals for their generosity in supporting our Comfort Food Meals for All program.