Talbot Food Pantries to Benefit from 10th Annual Empty Bowls Dinner

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Tickets for the 10th annual Talbot County Empty Bowls Community Dinner scheduled for Sunday, February 25 are selling fast. This popular fundraiser benefits Talbot County food pantries and related organizations committed to eliminating the daily reality of hunger experienced by children, families and seniors.

“Hundreds of people attend the annual Talbot County Empty Bowls dinner every February,” says Susan duPont, co-chair of the event planning committee. “Families and friends come for the soup and the camaraderie while supporting a worthy cause. Yet the dinner and related fundraising activities are only part of the movement to eliminate food insufficiency in our community. The real heroes are the men and women who operate the food pantries that receive the money we raise.”

Empty Bowls representative Lori Wadsworth (right) and Beth Eckel, manager of the St. Michaels Food Pantry.

Since the first dinner was served in 2009 Talbot County Empty Bowls has distributed more than $129,000 to Talbot County food pantries.

This year nine food pantries along with Care Packs will benefit from the Talbot County Empty Bowls fundraiser. The ten beneficiaries of the 2018 fundraising efforts are St. Michaels Food Panty; Union United Methodist Church in St. Michaels; Tilghman Island Food Pantry; St. Vincent de Paul Society of Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church; Asbury Methodist Church in Easton; Scotts United Methodist Church in Trappe; Presbyterian Church of Easton; Easton Church of God Harvest of Hope Food Pantry; Neighborhood Service Center; and Care Packs of Talbot County.

Every penny raised from the Talbot County Empty Bowls dinner ticket sales and donations are split equally among the selected food pantries. The all-volunteer event is also supported by sponsor donations that defray expenses and add to funds distributed to the pantries.

Talbot County Empty Bowls co-chair Susan duPont (right) and Francine deSanctis at Tilghman Island Food Pantry.

To qualify for funding from Talbot County Empty Bowls pantries must show how they use the money.

“Our criteria for pantry selection is simple – we want to ensure that a food pantry is a viable organization with a mission and resources to help those who might otherwise go hungry,” explains Lori Wadsworth, a member of the Talbot County Empty Bowls planning committee and pantry liaison. “We also want to be sure that a pantry is open to anyone in the community who comes for assistance.”

Wadsworth adds, “Even though we may not meet the people who benefit from the fundraiser, the pantry representatives make sure that we know how they depend on the money we raise.”

Beth Eckel, manager of the St. Michaels Food Pantry, explains, “The generous contributions from Empty Bowls allows us to expand the food inventory to include meat as well as occasional fruits and fresh vegetables so that we can offer our clients healthier food choices.”

Asbury Methodist Church in Easton relies on Talbot County Empty Bowls funds to operate a winter soup kitchen, fill bags of food that are distributed at Christmas, and serve dinner to participants in the Fresh Start transitional supportive housing program that helps people recovering from substance abuse. Edith Hayman says, “We are a small congregation and would not be able to finance all of this without the help of Empty Bowls.”

Empty Bowls representative Lori Wadsworth (right) with SVDP volunteers Kathy Weaver and Alex Handy.

With funds from Talbot County Empty Bowls the Tilghman Island Food Pantry has expanded their service to include delivering fruit and snacks to children attending summer camp in Tilghman and working with CarePacks to feed needy families through the summer. Francine deSanctis adds, “We are sometimes contacted by the school and have responded to a few emergency needs.While our community tries to help us, there are many older neighbors who can barely feed themselves. Empty Bowls will always be our light during dark days.”

Since opening in 2008 the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Talbot County has grown from a small storage shed to a 7000-square-foot facility with 300 volunteers. “We are providing food for over 200 families every week, and the numbers are going up all of the time,” says Alex Handy.

Handy credits Talbot County Empty Bowls for creating awareness in addition to raising money. He explains, “The Empty Bowls dinner calls attention to poverty in our community and thereby stimulates lots of other activities in support of the many food pantries in our community. Empty Bowls captures a spirit of community and outreach that has a year-round effect on the people of Talbot County.”

Tickets are available for the 6:30 p.m. seating at the Talbot County Empty Bowls community dinner on Sunday, February 25. The meal will be served in the Immanuel Lutheran Church Hall at 7215 Ocean Gateway, Easton. Each $20 ticket includes a hand-painted bowl, a variety of homemade soups and chili, home-baked cookies, and bread donated by Panera and Olive Garden.

Purchase tickets online at www.mscf.org; click on the “Events” tab at the top of the web page and complete the order form. Checks made payable to Mid-Shore/Empty Bowls can be mailed to Mid-Shore Community Foundation, 102 E. Dover Street, Easton, MD 21601;please include a phone number.

Donations to Talbot County Empty Bowls are also welcome through Mid-Shore Community Foundation online and by check.

Learn more about Talbot County Empty Bowls on Facebook and at talbotcountyemptybowls.org.

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