Annual Empty Bowls Dinner resumes in-person on Oct. 8
The Empty Bowls dinner combines bowls from local potters and food from local restaurateurs into an event that raises awareness of hunger, poverty, and nutrition in the community. The dinner benefits Groundworks Collaborative’s year-round efforts to provide food to those in need.

Annual Empty Bowls Dinner resumes in-person on Oct. 8

PUTNEY — The southern Vermont Empty Bowls steering committee will hold an in-person Empty Bowls Dinner this fall to benefit Foodworks, the region's most heavily utilized food redistribution program, operated by Groundworks Collaborative.

The dinner, which has been replaced with a virtual event for the past two years, will be served on Saturday, Oct. 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Landmark College in Putney.

“Empty Bowls is a fun and family-friendly evening celebrating local potters, restaurants, and businesses coming together to raise vital funds for the important work we do at Foodworks,” Libby Bennett, Groundworks's director of development and communications, said in a news release.

Diners purchase a ticket to the dinner and choose a handmade bowl to keep from one of hundreds of local potters. The menu consists of soup donated by roughly 15 area restaurants, rounded out with local bread, cheese, and apples - all donated to help stock the shelves at Foodworks, which served over 3,550 local people last year alone.

“It's a simple and delicious meal in a beautiful bowl to take home,” said Groundworks's executive director Josh Davis. “We love the way this event brings out so many people in our community to support not only our food distribution program, but also the arts and a love of local food.”

“We are thrilled to return to an in-person dinner this year,” said event co-chair Sara Ryan. “Rather than having two seatings, we'll be trying out one open seating from 5 to 7 p.m. this year.”

Organizers described the support of the community that kept this event raising the needed funds for Foodworks, even when people could not safely come together.

“Those who are unable to join us in person for the dinner can-like last year-purchase individual bowls in local storefronts,” co-chair Beth Kiendl said.

Last year's Empty Bowls effort raised nearly $21,000 in sponsorships and bowl sales alone. Organizers hope to outraise years past. Due to inflation, supply chain challenges, and the increasing cost of food and fuel, Foodworks is seeing a marked increase in the need for supplemental food.

“We saw a 25 percent increase in visits to Foodworks from the first quarter of 2022 to the second quarter,” said Andrew Courtney, Foodworks's new director. “Inflation and gas prices are the two areas most often cited by our shoppers as pinching their budgets.”

Grocery costs are up by about 12 percent over the last year, exceeding overall inflation.

“Another point that many Foodworks's shoppers bring to our attention is that their wages are not keeping up with inflation. Many of our shoppers are working multiple jobs to try to make ends meet, and it still is not enough,” said Courtney.

Courtney said Foodworks's shoppers “express that they are getting squeezed from all angles currently. There isn't a lot of optimism that things will get better any time soon. That said, we are uplifted by the kind words of our shoppers letting us know how helpful Foodworks is to them.”

Foodworks reopened to in-person shopping in mid-June after two years of curbside pickup and deliveries. Patrons are again able to pick up food with the opportunity to choose their own groceries at Foodworks located at 141 Canal St.

Empty Bowls Dinner tickets and bowls are now on sale both in Brattleboro and Putney. Participating storefronts in Brattleboro include the Brattleboro Food Co-op, Everyone's Books, The Kitchen Sync, The Shoe Tree, and Zephyr Designs. In Putney, bowls and tickets are available at the Putney Food Co-op and the Putney General Store.

Dinner tickets can also be purchased online at Adult tickets are $25 in advance and $30 when purchased at the door. Youth tickets, for ages 7 through 15, are available for $15. Children 6 and under attend the dinner for free. Each $25 bowl or ticket sold allows Foodworks to provide a family of 5 with supplemental food for two weeks.

For more information about the event and to volunteer during or before the Oct. 8 dinner, email [email protected] or call 802-302-8302.

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