BRATTLEBORO >> On Saturday, Oct. 8, the 13th annual Empty Bowls dinner will take place at Landmark College as a fundraiser for the Food Shelf at Groundworks Collaborative.
As many know, in June 2015 Morningside Shelter and The Brattleboro Area Drop In Center — two well-established and long-standing Brattleboro institutions with more than 60 years of cumulative experience working to serve those with housing and food insecurities — merged to form Groundworks Collaborative.
The new name for the organization, which continues to provide all of the legacy food, shelter, and supportive service programs from Morningside and the Drop In Center, drew on the idea of providing people with a firm ground on which to stand and grow, and the sense that a lot of work in general, and collaborative work in particular, is needed to help people grow beyond their circumstances. Having recently wrapped up the first year of Groundworks Collaborative, the organization's tagline — Basic Needs Met with Dignity — rings true for many in our community; particularly for clients, shelter residents, staff, volunteers, donors, partner organizations, and certainly for the Empty Bowls Steering Committee.
For the 13th year, the Steering Committee has come together to organize the Empty Bowls Dinner to be held, as always, on the beautiful Landmark College campus during Columbus Day weekend. Over the last few months, the committee — made up of members from all corners of the community — has been busily working with local potters and restaurants to arrange for the handmade bowls and delicious soups that make this event a unique joining of the arts, social justice, and culinary festivity.
Christie Herbert, one of the founding members of the Empty Bowls dinner in our area, and long-term co-chairwoman of the event, teaches ceramics in the art department at Landmark College. For the past twelve years, Herbert has brought together her friends, family, and community volunteers to organize the event according to her vision. She has made lasting relationships that bring supporters, such as the dozens of potters and the Landmark food service team to name a very few, back year after year to contribute to the success of the event. This year, Herbert, as well as former co-chair Liz McLoughlin, are getting a well-deserved break — handing the co-chair positions to Groundworks Board of Directors member Scott Sharland, and community volunteer Emilie Kornheiser — while remaining active members of the Committee. Herbert hasn't slowed down one bit. In addition to remaining a strong advisor to the Committee, this year she's creating a line of 100 bowls for the dinner that she hopes "will get people thinking about hunger, poverty, and homelessness in new ways."
Groundworks Food Shelf is serving more hungry households than ever before. Early last year Groundworks staff moved the entire Food Shelf into the garage space at the Drop In Center on South Main Street in Brattleboro. As a result, multiple households can "shop" the space at once, and the numbers of individuals receiving emergency food assistance have reached 1337 (292 households) in recent months. Keeping the shelves stocked with quality, nutritious food comes with a hefty price tag.
"We are committed to supplying emergency food for all who need it in this community," said Groundworks Executive Director Josh Davis. "Over the past year we spent over $92,000 on food, supplies, and transportation of food to meet that need. We're so appreciative of the dedication of the Empty Bowls Steering Committee to continue this remarkable fundraiser each year on our behalf."
All proceeds from the Oct. 8 Empty Bowls Dinner will support Groundworks Food Shelf. As in previous years, the Steering Committee anticipates raising upwards of $30,000 with this one-night event. Tickets are currently on sale for seatings at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at GroundworksVT.org (click on the EVENTS tab), The Shoe Tree and Everyone's Books in Brattleboro, and at the Putney Food Co-Op. Each $25 ticket entitles the bearer to a simple meal of homemade soup and bread in a handmade bowl to keep. Tickets and bowls will be for sale during Brattleboro's October Gallery Walk, as well as on several dates at the Brattleboro Food Co-Op.
Groundworks Collaborative would like to extend sincere thanks to the major sponsors of this year's Empty Bowls dinner: King Arthur Flour, Verizon Wireless Zone, Brattleboro Savings & Loan Association, and Trust Company of Vermont.