Survival Center’s Empty Bowls event helps fulfill aid mission

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Published: 04-01-2024 5:03 PM

AMHERST — Ceramics students in an art class at Amherst Regional High School are among the professional and amateur artists whose bowls will be available for the Amherst Survival Center’s largest annual fundraiser, the Empty Bowls event, taking place April 6 from noon to 4 p.m. at the center’s 138 Sunderland Road site.

Bowls made by the students in art teacher Hannah Hartl’s class will be among those filled with meat, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free soup options. The high school students, who have spent three months learning how to be ceramicists, are continuing a tradition of participating in Empty Bowls each year.

“Volunteering and viewing their bowls alongside those of outstanding local potters is always a great honor,” Hartl said. “Alums have repeatedly told me that being a part of Empty Bowls affected their outlook on ways to help others.”

Waitstaff will include local celebrities including state legislators, town leaders and special guests. People are welcome to dine in, but also can get soup to go in handcrafted bowls.

A dozen area restaurants have made the soups that will be served, along with salad and bread.

A new restaurant participant this year is the Ashfield Lake House, whose owner and chef, Dre Rawlings, cites the importance of ensuring people throughout the region have access to healthy and nourishing food, along with a welcoming place for programs and services.

“As a community we can work together to relieve the stress of food insecurity felt by so many,” Rawlings said.

Executive Director Lev Ben-Ezra said the center provided more than 1.4 million meals to 10,000 people last year, with the need 40% higher than during the peak surges of the pandemic.

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“I am grateful to be a part of a community where we support each other, and where we know that everyone should have the food they need,” Ben-Ezra said. “Empty Bowls is a beautiful opportunity to put that value into action.”

Tickets are $50 and are available online at amherstsurvival.org/emptybowls or by calling the Survival Center at 413-549-3968, ext. 108. Guests who don’t want a handmade bowl may also choose “soup only” tickets for adults, which are $30, and for children, which are $10. Children 2 and under are free. Tickets can also be purchased in person on the day of the event.

Raffle tickets will also be sold at Empty Bowls, with prizes including handblown glass pieces from Josh Simpson and a private wine tasting from Provisions. On sale that day will be Empty Bowls keepsake aprons.

Donations from people on top of the ticket prices are being matched by Greenfield Savings Bank, up to $5,000.

— Scott Merzbach