Empty Bowls supper to raise money for the hungry

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BENNINGTON — For the ninth year, Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services will host its Empty Bowls Soup Supper to benefit the Kitchen Cupboard.

This weekend's event is designed to bring awareness to the presence of hunger in the community and to Bennington's status as a "food desert," and to show solidarity with the many in Bennington County who struggle to get enough to eat by bringing the community together for a creative process. Each attendee will receive a handmade bowl from the community, and will be able to sample bread and soup donated by several local eateries.

For the second year, the group will partner with a Bennington College class to put on the event, which will take place Sunday, Nov. 12 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Mount Anthony Union Middle School on East Road in Bennington. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door, and are available at the Vermont State Employees Credit Union on North Street, the Bennington College bookstore, GBICS on Depot Street, and in other locations. Family tickets are also available for $25.

"Local residents have been working side-by- side with the students taking the Social Kitchen course in a series of skill-sharing workshops that focuses on the creative process of ceramic bowl creation," said GBICS Executive Director Sue Andrews. "Participants have had the opportunity to work on bowls throughout the entire process from conception to the final firing. A similar endeavor has taken place at Bennington Elementary School where 5th graders worked with Bennington College students on making their own bowls for the event."

"At the Soup Supper, the bowls will be shared with members of the community who come together to share a meal of soup and bread donated by local restaurants," she said. "In this way, the community stands together in solidarity with families experiencing hunger. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Kitchen Cupboard, the GBICS food distribution program that is providing food to one in every five families in the Bennington area."

"The empty bowl is a wonderful metaphorical image," reads the description on GBICs website. "In Thailand, for example, Buddhist monks and nuns have a single possession: their bowl. Each morning they knock on doors and receive a bit of food from each house. In this way, the empty bowl represents human interdependence, the truth that we only survive by giving and receiving."

"Social Kitchen: Ceramics, Food and Community" is taught by Bennington College faculty Yoko Inoue. Students from the class have been involved with the Empty Bowls steering committee, and have participated in running workshops alongside the community to make bowls, spreading the word about the event, and more.

According to the class syllabus, "This course will provide students with an opportunity to learn about creative community engaged practices and ethical processes that take up issues of food insecurity in the Bennington region. The class activities will be centered around a collaborative project, Empty Bowls, that links a community service organization (GBICS) with students, staff, and faculty from Bennington College."

"Through direct dialog and face-to-face interaction with community participants and by investigating various forms of creative interventions devised by artists and community activists dealing with issues of food sovereignty and social justice," the class description continues, "students will help design and participate in events that benefit the Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Service's Food and Fuel Program. A series of ceramic workshop sessions will be conducted so that the residents and students can collectively produce high quality bowls, which will be used to serve soups prepared by local restaurant chefs to Bennington community members at the Empty Bowls fund-raising event."

The Kitchen Cupboard was founded by GBICS in 2012 to combat poverty and food insecurity in Bennington County. In addition to the food distribution program, Kitchen Cupboard also provides information and training on cooking, food, and wellness. All proceeds from Empty Bowls will support that program. To learn more about GBICS or to make a donation, visit their website at benningtoncares.org.

Derek Carson can be reached at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.

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