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Filling empty bowls: 25th annual event set

NASHUA – Hunger is a very real and persistent problem in the U.S., as in 2017, some 40 million Americans struggled with the matter, while 15 million households were considered food insecure.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides much-needed resources to 45 million Americans, with two-thirds of the support going to households with children.

For the last 25 years, the Nashua High School Arts Honor Society has been hosting an Empty Bowls event. This involves 700 ceramic which are then used in a fundraiser involving food, beverages and bread from local establishments.

This year’s event is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at Nashua High School South, 36 Riverside St. Doors open at 5 p.m. to allow attendees a chance to pick their bowls. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at https://nsks.org/empty-bowls/.

“Empty Bowls is a fundraiser for the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter, which has been hosted over the last quarter-century by the Nashua High School Arts Honor Society,” Community Outreach Coordinator Meghan Bolton said. “The event is spearheaded by Maggie Jones and Robin Peringer, a former Nashua Soup Kitchen board member.”

Bolton said that the bowls will be produced by Nashua High School South students, along with faculty and community volunteers.

“We have soup, beverages and bread donated by various local businesses, who have kindly lent their efforts to this event,” she said.

The list of contributing vendors is extensive, including Alpine Grove, Bagel Alley, Bud’s Restaurant, Burton’s Grill, Chick-fil-A, Chili’s, Chrysanthi’s, City Room Café, Common Man, Country Tavern, Cozy Tea Cart, Crosby Bakery, Fairview Healthcare, Fratello’s, Giorgio’s, Hampshire Hills The Hills, MT Local, North Star Café, Panera Bread (South Nashua), Panera Bread (North Nashua), The Peddler’s Daughter, Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar, Shorty’s, Speaker’s Corner, Stella Blu, T-Bones, The Homestead Restaurant and Tavern, Not Your Average Joes, Norton’s Classic Café, The Foundry Restaurant and Shaw’s Main Street.

Empty Bowls is a grassroots movement by artists and crafts people in cities and towns around the world to care for and feed the hungry in their communities. Officials said it supports food-related charitable organizations around the world, and has raised millions of dollars to help end hunger.

The initiative was founded by Lisa Blackburn and art teacher John Hartom in 1990-91 when they joined a drive to raise charitable funds in Hatrom’s Michigan community. His idea was to organize a charitable event to give artists and art students a way to make a personal difference. Hartom’s students made ceramic bowls in their high school art classes. The finished products were then used as serving pieces for a fund-raising meal of soup and bread, and invited guests to keep the bowl as a reminder of hunger in the world.

By the next year, the organizers had developed this idea into the Empty Bowls Project and established the Imagine|Render Group, a 501(c)3 organization designed to promote the concept.

Since its inception, this simple project has evolved into a far-reaching program providing support for food banks, soup kitchens, and other organizations that fight hunger. Empty Bowls events have been organized throughout the world, raising millions of dollars for use in combating hunger.

“The guests come in and have the opportunity to pick out their bowls,” Bolton said. “They then can choose various food items from our vendors. Music will be provided by the Nashua High School Jazz Band. There will also be a silent auction, presented by the students and teachers at the school.”

Bolton said that, given the long life of the program, she has no problem seeing it continue into the future.

“This event has real and long-lasting consequences for the needy in our community,” she said. “It’s a great way to have a night out, and provide a viable service in the process.”

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