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Skidmore College

Empty Bowls to support Wilton Food Pantry

April 10, 2014
empty bowls in ceramics studio
Skidmore's ceramics studio has many bowls
support the Wilton Food Pantry.

Members of the Skidmore College community are key contributors to the April 13 “Empty Bowls” fund raiser for the Wilton Food Pantry.

The third annual Empty Bowls for the benefit of the Wilton Food Pantry is scheduled from 1 to 4 pm Sunday, April 13, at the Saratoga-Wilton Elks Lodge 161 on Route 9.

The premise of Empty Bowls is simple: each attendee is able to choose a unique handcrafted bowl or a produced bowl, fill it with a simple meal of soup, chili and bread; and then take the bowl home after the event, as a reminder of neighbors faced with empty bowls every week.

Advance tickets are $20 for a handcrafted bowl and $15 for a produced bowl at the Wilton Food Pantry or at the three Wilton branches of Saratoga National Bank. Admission at the door (if available) will be $25/ $20. The 2013 Empty Bowls was a sold-out event, netting just over $15,000.

From the outset, the Skidmore community has made an important contribution to the success of this event. This is the second year that students of associate professor of art Matt Wilt have created bowls for the event. A total of 30 students in two classes contributed 10 bowls each this year. Skidmore chefs cook the food, which always earns high praise.

“Each bowl is a true vessel of hope and the admission price allows the Pantry to purchase over 100 pounds of food from the Regional Food Bank,” said Debi Zellan, president of the Wilton Food Pantry board.

In addition to the handmade ceramic bowls and food, the afternoon will feature live music by John & Orion Kribs, with special guests Doug Moody & Arlin Green. A silent auction will be held from 1 to 3:30 p.m. with items including donated vacation homes in Ecuador, Italy, Florida, and Honolulu, a gas grill, jewelry, personal services, shopping, fine dining, golf, art and more.

Other community partners besides Skidmore include individuals and businesses providing silent auction items, the media offering promotion, Boy and Girl scouts tending to diners and the Elks generously donating the space.

“This event amplifies the spirit of the food pantry, which is neighbor helping neighbor. Folks are doing what they can to be part of this home-grown solution—strengthening community, volunteering, and working together to resolve food insecurity and provide good nutrition, which makes for a healthier Wilton,” said event organizer and food pantry board member Dennis Towers, whose company, McKinley Griffen Design & Advertising, is providing its services free of charge to the pantry.

Event sponsors include Hannaford Supermarkets, D.A. Collins, Saratoga Veterinary Hospital, Saratoga National Bank, and Lant's Auto.

“This event is the single largest source of funds to support this 100 percent volunteer food pantry, and it is a rare opportunity to build community within a town of more than16,000 residents,” Towers continued.

Residents of Wilton may visit the pantry 12 times in a year for a three-day emergency supply of food for their family. The Wilton Food Pantry distributed groceries equal to over 25,000 meals in 2013.

Families using the pantry’s services are educated about nutrition, food origins, and meal preparation. “Chef Ben Niese of Skidmore, who became involved at our first Empty Bowls, is now a board member and volunteer. Ben will look at inventory on a given day, with a focus on perishables. He will write up easy to prepare recipes on the spot, which we share with the families. This helps them get back to ‘slow food’ principles and perhaps prepare foods they have not had in the past. We now have a recipe binder that clients can pull from. It has a recipe for virtually any food item we have. It was put together as a gift by 2 of our volunteers.” explained Connie Towers, food pantry board vice president.

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