The first ever Empty Bowls event to be held in the valley will begin with a soup dinner at 5:30 pm in the Twin Valley High School cafeteria. Each patron who donates $10 will be given a bowl to use at dinner, and take home at the end of the night. Desserts and a concert will follow at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on East Main Street, beginning at 7:30 pm. Music will include a range of styles from traditional to Mozart, and feature stringed, brass, and electric instruments.
Empty Bowls is an international grassroots movement that began in Minnesota 13 years ago, which focuses on raising both money and awareness in the fight to end hunger. Empty Bowl fundraisers have been held in Bennington and Brattleboro before, but this is the inaugural year for the Deerfield Valley. Event organizer Marcia Dorey said that supporting the local food pantry is important in fighting local hunger, and Empty Bowls provides just one more way to do this. “I had heard that the pantry had their allotment from the Vermont Food Bank cut in half, and they already lost their biggest fundraiser this year,” said Dorey. “The pantry did very well with their Fill the Bus fundraiser, but when the demand continues to go up, it’s kind of scary.”
Evans began to put together the Empty Bowls fundraiser by asking local artisans to craft or donate bowls. John McLeod at Vermont Bowl Company agreed to make wooden bowls for the event, while Christy Abraham’s art class at Twin Valley High School made close to 30 bowls in their pottery class. Multiple individual artisans in Brattleboro and within the valley also made bowls for the fundraiser, and Twice Blessed will donate some as well.
Many local soup makers were also brought on board, including Joe Kruszewski at the Matterhorn Inn, Dot’s Restaurant, Folly Foods, Sandy Wirstrom, Betty Appel, and Irma Bartlett. Each is making 20 servings worth. “We have a total of 180 servings, and I’m terrified that there will be more people than soup,” joked Dorey.
Another of the event’s organizers, Carol Ann Johnson, helped to organize the concert at St. Mary’s, and says that this event can provide a full night of fun events, but more important, can provide much needed help to the community. “The cancellsation of the holiday fundraiser was a catalyst,” said Johnson. “ The church is a nice space that can seat more than 100 people, so we joined forces with the Empty Bowls dinner so that people can go out for a whole night. There are a lot of hungry people in the valley and the food pantry is feeding more families each year, and they don’t want to turn away anyone who is hungry.
“The idea is to have a simple supper, meant to honor and recognize the fact that so many don’t have dinner at all, let alone a bowl of soup. It’s contemplative.”
Dorey said that combating hunger is important because too often it’s children who go without a meal. “Most of our reports say it’s our children who are hungry, and while adults can deal with a couple of days, kids really shouldn’t ever have to.
“It’s like the starfish story where one person walks along a beach throwing starfish back in the water one at a time, and someone says to them, ‘You can’t save them all,’ and they say back, ‘Yes, but I’m saving that one and that one and so on.’ That’s the attitude, you help where and when you can.”