Empty Bowls fundraiser combats food insecurity, fosters community

November 21, 2023
By: Guest Contributor

The annual Empty Bowls fundraiser was held Nov. 14 in the exhibit area of the Student Center. The Urban Action Institute, which is the outreach and community action arm of the Urban Studies Department, partnered with Chartwell’s and the Student Government Association for the event to promote hunger awareness and provide resources to students in need.

The fundraiser included a soup lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., with proceeds benefiting Thea’s Pantry on the Worcester State University campus, as well as the Chandler Magnet School Food Pantry. These local pantries play a crucial role in addressing food insecurity for Worcester State students, staff, and faculty and within the wider Worcester community.

“The Empty Bowls Fundraiser has a dual purpose,” Adam Saltsman, associate professor of Urban Studies and director of the Urban Action Institute, said. “First, it’s an event that raises money for Thea’s Pantry and the Chandler Magnet Elementary School food pantry, and second, it represents the culmination of months of student work as part of the Urban Studies SNAP practicum who are learning alongside Urban Action Institute work study students how to put on a big anti-hunger event.”

A diverse group of more than 80 participants, including students, faculty, and members of the public, attended the event. A theme of “Throwback Tuesday,” taking participants on a nostalgic journey through decades from the 1960s to the 1990s, added a bit of fun to the event. Many attendees embraced the theme by donning outfits reminiscent of past eras.

Attendees had all they could eat of two varieties of soup and a hearty beef stew, fresh bread and butter, and a variety of desserts donated by local businesses. The support from Worcester’s business community underscored the collaborative effort to address food insecurity in our community.

In addition to their tickets to the event, many of the participants donated money directly to the pantries, and many students contributed toward meals for other students. These gestures demonstrated the spirit of the event: that a community thrives when its members support one another.

Story by Judy El Houssam, Edianys Beltres, and Ricaury Pascual Vazquez.

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