New Life for the Old Kitchen: Dining Hall Equipment Benefits Food Providers in Need
Hotchkiss Dining Hall equipment

From left: Hedley Stone from Off the Shelf Farm, Charlie Noyes '78, P'03'07, Fairfield Farm Manager Bridget Lawrence-Meigs, Tommy Coyne of Northeast Farm Innovations, Rob Perazzo from Off the Shelf Farm, and Assistant Farm Manager Ian Brunell.

By Charlie Noyes ’78, P’03’07 

These days the entire Hotchkiss community is dining at the Ford Food Court, and Tory Hill Dining Services is creating meals out of several adjoining kitchen trailers. It was a herculean effort to shift the School’s entire food operation across campus as work begins on the Hotchkiss Dining Commons, the new heart and hearth of the School that will open in fall 2025. The existing Dining Hall and kitchen facilities are in the process of being prepped for new construction, and all of the materials and equipment that will be used in the new Dining Commons have been removed and put into storage. But what about the older equipment that was left behind and slated to be replaced—stainless steel sinks and tables, steam kettles, walk-in freezers, and more? Could it be donated to food providers in need?

I discussed that question with Fairfield Farm Manager Bridget Lawrence-Meigs. Both of us have become increasingly involved with food security efforts in our tri-state area. Lawrence-Meigs is also working with the Hotchkiss Food Access Society, a group of Hotchkiss students who are passionate about food and nutrition security work outside of our Hotchkiss community.  

In late January we reached out to Hotchkiss Director of Facilities John Bryant, our own HVAC team, and Joseph Mancini, project supervisor for O&G (the construction company overseeing the entire renovation project), and we asked about removing and repurposing equipment in the shuttered kitchen facility. To our delight, they could not have been more helpful and enthusiastically supportive. But there was one caveat: A major asbestos abatement phase was looming, and we only had a few weeks to get in and out before the old facility would be closed off for good.

Hotchkiss Dining Hall equipment

Volunteers dismantle an indoor walk-in freezer.

Lawrence-Meigs and I reached out to regional farmers and food pantry directors to gauge their needs and capacities to take this equipment within our tight deadline. Off the Shelf Farm, just over the Massachusetts border, responded quickly and connected us with Tommy Coyne (the legendary “Freezer Magician”) from southern New Hampshire, who had the expertise, equipment, and desire to oversee the dismantling of the freezers, cooling fans, and compressors. Rob Perazzo and Hedley Stone from Off the Shelf took some prep tables, a sink unit, an industrial mixer, and two of the three freestanding walk-in freezers. Coyne and Charlie Kenney, a New Hampshire plumber and farmer, disconnected and removed the third freezer unit, six large stainless steel sink units, several stainless steel prep tables, four 30-gallon steam kettles, additional compressors, fan units, an oil burner, two large water heater tanks, regulators, and on and on. Thanks to their work, all of this equipment—valued at well over $70,000—will find new homes at farms throughout southern and central New England.

Hotchkiss DIning Hall equipment

Hedley Stone of Off the Shelf Farm oversees the safe removal of a hefty industrial mixer.

 We remain exceedingly grateful to the following people: John Bryant, Dave D’Andrea, Jim Lawrence-Meigs, and Assistant Farm Manager Ian Brunell from Hotchkiss; Joseph Mancini and Jay Lucarelli from O&G Construction Co.; Tommy Coyne of Northeast Farm Innovations in Mont Vernon, NH, Charlie Kenney, and Roy Glines from Ware, NH; and Hedley Stone and Rob Perazzo from Off the Shelf Farm in New Marlborough, MA.  

Everyone chipped in and made connections that will last far beyond our impromptu sustainability collaboration. Thanks to these amazing people, this valuable equipment will find its way to food providers in need.

Hotchkiss Dining Hall Equipment

Charlie Kenney and Roy Glines are ready to roll with donated equipment from the Dining Hall.

Hotchkiss Dining Hall equipment

Jim Lawrence-Meigs and Assistant Farm Manager Ian Brunell transport shelving units to Fairfield Farm.


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