14th Annual Empty Bowls Dinner set for Oct. 7

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PUTNEY — On Saturday, Oct. 7, the 14th annual Empty Bowls dinner will take place at Landmark College as a fundraiser for Groundworks Collaborative's Food Shelf. A group of dedicated potters and community volunteers come together each year to create this event, benefiting neighbors in need.

Due to Groundworks' ability to leverage donations — purchasing just one-quarter of the food they distribute to food-insecure households — each $25 ticket or bowl purchase can provide a month's worth of supplemental food for a family of five. Bringing people from the community together for Empty Bowls makes a real impact for local families struggling to meet their basic needs. The Groundworks' tagline, "Basic Needs Met with Dignity," rings true for many in the community, from clients to staff to the Empty Bowls Steering Committee, according to organizers.

The committee has organized the dinner to be held, as always, on the Landmark College campus. For the past several 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 the soups that make this event a unique combination of the arts, social justice, and culinary delight.

Scott Sharland, a program specialist with Greater Falls Connections and the board secretary for Groundworks Collaborative, is co-chairing the event for the second year.

Jess Rodrigues, Girls on the Run program coordinator, has joined the steering committee this year as co-chairwoman, bringing her enthusiasm to the efforts. As the steering committee's membership has evolved over the course of 14 years, the new members have infused fresh energy into this year's preparations, with businesses and potters as eager as ever to support the event.

Last year, through the support of sponsors, diners, and those who could not attend, but purchased bowls, the dinner raised more than $28,000, the largest fundraiser of the year for Groundworks Collaborative. Sharland and Rodrigues are setting their sights on a goal of $30,000 for this year's event.

"I love southern Vermont for its sense of community, generosity, and social justice," said Sharland. "This event really brings together all of those things in a creative way. It's a fun and special evening, and we expect to sell out this year."

The Food Shelf at Groundworks Collaborative is the region's most heavily utilized food pantry, providing supplemental food to upwards of 1,000 individuals each month.

"We are committed to supplying emergency food for all who need it in this community," said Groundworks' Executive Director Josh Davis. "We're so appreciative of the dedication of the Empty Bowls Steering Committee to continue this remarkable fundraiser each year on our behalf."

All of the funds raised from the Empty Bowls Dinner will support the Food Shelf. Each $25 ticket includes a simple meal of local homemade soup, bread, and cheese in a handmade bowl to keep. Attendees will be able to choose from signature bowls made by many of the region's best known and most talented potters. More than 15 local cafes and restaurants are donating homemade soups to the dinner.

The dinner has two seatings, one at 5 p.m. and one at 6:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at GroundworksVT.org or in-person by cash or check in Brattleboro at Everyone's Books and The Shoe Tree, as well as at the Putney Food Co-op. The Brattleboro Food Co-op will host ticket and bowl sales today from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Groundworks Collaborative is the agency created by the merger of the Brattleboro Area Drop-In Center and Morningside Shelter. The organization continues to operate the region's largest and busiest food shelf, a 30-bed shelter for families and individuals, the Seasonal Overflow Shelter and Day Shelter, while providing housing case management, and a Representative Payee service. To learn more, visit: GroundworksVT.org

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