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Our Beginnings

Open Table was founded in 1989 by Concord resident Margie Goud Patterson, after she became aware of the people in her own town who were going hungry. It started by serving weekly dinners in the First Parish Church in Concord, MA. From the beginning, Open Table has believed in serving every individual with dignity. Unlike most other food relief programs of the time, Open Table was open to all, requiring no proof of need.

Growth and Expansion 

Soon after opening, the need for groceries became apparent and an ad hoc pantry was developed to distribute bags of food. Storage soon became an issue at the church, and warehouse space was donated by the Town of Concord. A second location was established in Maynard in 2006. Open Table quickly outgrew its location in the Maynard Congregational Church and was invited to use space in the Clock Tower Place (now know as Mill & Main) in Maynard. 

In recognition of the complexity of having two locations and two separate operating teams, an advisory board was formed in 2009 to provide oversight, coordination and guidance, and to plan for the future.

Maturing as an Organization 

As Open Table expanded, it became apparent that it was crucial for the organization to have a permanent location in which it could create meals, store fresh produce, distribute packaged foods and out of which it could base new programs. In 2017, Open Table purchased, retrofitted, and renovated a building on Main Street in Maynard. The Maynard facility includes an industrial kitchen, a large open space (that served as our dining room), and a grocery-store style food pantry with ample refrigeration and freezer space.

Reflecting the size and complexity of the organization, Open Table made the decision to hire an Executive Director, its first paid staff member in 2016. Since then, additional full and part time staff have been hired, although we continue to rely on an cohort of dedicated and talented volunteers.

The COVID Years

The pandemic forced Open Table to curtail its in-person dining program. The loss was hard for the many guests who looked forward to the weekly socializing opportunity. Instead, the organization focused on creative ways to get food to those who needed it, and to partner with other organizations in the community. Early in the pandemic, Open Table was able to purchase a large refrigerated truck. Now we were able to regularly pick up larger quantities (palettes) of fresh produce and other foods from Greater Boston Food Bank and elsewhere. We also launched our Mobile Food Pantry, greatly expanding our reach and getting food to those who can’t come to us.

Open Table Today

Last year, with the help of more than 600 volunteers, we distributed over 70,000 meals to people in 21 communities, and donated 817,261 pounds of food. As we celebrate our 35th year, we are proud of the recognition we have received for our work in our community. We are ranked as a strategic partner of the Greater Boston Food Bank, we received a Rotary Club Award, a Points of Light Service Enterprise Certification for Volunteer Excellence, and a Guidestar platinum rating for transparency of organization information.

What Can One Person Do?

Margie Goud with son Blake and daughter Joanna in 1989
Open Table at 33 Main Street inMaynard

Igniting the compassionate response of the local community, one person dared to share her ideas with others and sparked the foundations of an organization that has served as a model of neighborly caring for decades.

In 1986, Margie Goud Patterson walked the Crop Walk with her son Blake Goud and learned that in her affluent Concord town people were hungry. She and her friend Robin Tardo wanted to address the issue so the two placed an ad in the local newspaper inviting all citizens to meet and create a solution. The turnout was inspiring and the enthusiasm to create a place where everyone was welcome became a central tenet of Open Table. More than one hundred people attended the first dinner demonstrating a need that many in the community didn’t think existed.

Open Table started by serving dinner in the First Parish Church in Concord, MA. The early founders believed that everyone should be served with dignity and on china. This restaurant or “night out” feeling where each guest is served with respect continues today and provides a needed sense of community. Head cooks vie to create the most popular and nutritious meals, often sharing recipes with the entire community based on guest responses.

Soon after opening, the need for groceries was apparent and so an ad hoc pantry emerged. Volunteers filled bags with cans of food in the morning and that night were distributed at dinner. Storage became an issue at the church and the off-site Everett Street pantry storage location was established through the help of the Town of Concord. Every Thursday morning volunteers would gather and fill bags to be delivered by local school children to the church in time for distribution.

In 2006, a second location providing the same services was established in the Maynard Congregational Church. When the program grew so big that a new location was needed Wellesley Management invited Open Table to use the Dining Hall at Clock Tower Place in Maynard and to rent a pantry location nearby in the building. Since 2010, Open Table has had a permanent pantry site making it possible to offer a grocery store setting with both perishable and non-perishable foods. Refrigeration also made it possible to participate in the offerings of the Greater Boston Food Bank. Open Table volunteers drive weekly to South Boston to bring back over 5000 pounds of food. Open Table is proud to have been named GBFB Strategic Partner, an accolade based on level and quality of service to those in need.

In the beginning, Open Table had a board that acted also as an operating team. When the Maynard site was established, a second operating team was formed. Mixing the day to day demands of distributing over 7000 lbs. of food a week and keeping up with the fundraising and planning of the organization became very difficult. In 2009, a twelve-person advisory board was created with the president acting as the liaison between the board and the operating teams. The board provides the over-arching guidance needed for the long term planning of the organization and to assist with fundraising and policy making.

One person can make a really big difference, an estimated 500,000 dinners have been served since Margie launched Open Table and she didn’t stop there.  Margie moved to a small mountain town in Colorado where she helped start another non-profit – The Old Gallery  ( – a Center for Community and The Arts, that includes a community cupboard food bank and a community clothes closet.