Empty Bowls Fundraiser for Foodworks Goes Virtual with Curbside Pickup and Retail Sales

  | Community

BRATTLEBORO, VT — A fixture of autumn in southeast Vermont, the Empty Bowls fundraiser for the food shelf at Groundworks Collaborative will look very different this year.  This is the 17th year organizers have come together to raise funds for the food shelf now known as Foodworks.

“It’s Empty Bowls in the time of COVID,” explains Groundworks Board Member Beth Kiendl.   “We’re tweaking just about every aspect of the event this year and hoping the community will continue to support this important work—providing emergency food to all who need it in our community.”

Staff and Volunteers at Foodworks have been packing and delivering boxes of food all over Windham County throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

“Foodworks needs this support more than ever,” reports Sara Ryan, Co-Chair of the Empty Bowls Steering Committee and a member of the Groundworks Board.  “We are feeding twice as many people as we were this time last year and the need for emergency food is expected to increase in the coming months.”

As Vermonters continue to be discouraged from gathering in large numbers, there will not be a soup dinner at Landmark College this fall.  Rather, organizers have designed a number of ways supporters can continue to participate without holding an in-person event.

The Empty Bowls Dinner typically raises between $25,000 and $30,000 to keep the shelves stocked at Foodworks for families and individuals in need of emergency food.  Funds raised from the sale of each $25 ticket to the dinner—or bowl purchased in advance for those who could not attend—could feed a family of five with food for two weeks.

“Without an in-person dinner, we knew we needed to come up with ways to replace the much needed revenue for Foodworks this year,” said Libby Bennett, Groundworks’ Director of Development and Communications.

Local potters are busy handcrafting scores of bowls as they do each year for the fundraiser and sponsors continue to line up in support.

Bowls are now available for purchase online through Groundworks’ website—GroundworksVT.org/events—and can be picked up curbside at one of three pickup locations in Brattleboro and Putney on the weekend of October 3rd and 4th:

  • Saturday October 3rd, 9am-noon at The Memorial Park Skating Rink Lot, Brattleboro

  • Saturday October 3rd, 1-4pm at River Valley Credit Union on Putney Road, Brattleboro

  • Sunday October 4th, 1-4pm at River Valley Credit Union on Rt. 5 in Putney

Bowls picked up at these locations will be pre-packaged for curbside pick up with receipt and can be purchased with cash or check at those locations.  Bowls will be on display and available for purchase in local business storefronts—including the Brattleboro Food Co-Op, Zephyr Designs, Vermont Artisan Designs, The Shoe Tree, The Putney Co-Op, Putney General Store, and possibly Everyone’s Books!

Individual bowls will be sold for $25 each and a Party Pack of 12 bowls and soup recipes will be available for $250.  Party Packs are designed to allow people to “Host your own Empty Bowls” with a small group of friends and family.  Party Packs come with free delivery anywhere within a 30-minute drive of Brattleboro.

On Saturday, October 10th—the evening the dinner would have otherwise been served—Groundworks will host a livestream broadcast on YouTube featuring staff, volunteers and Board, as well as music and the latest updates on Foodworks’ impact in the community.  More information about the livestream broadcast and bowl sales will be available on both the “Groundworks Collaborative” and “Empty Bowls – Southern Vermont” Facebook pages, as well as at GroundworksVT.org.

Organizers of the event look forward to gathering as usual once the Coronavirus pandemic is over.

“We are grateful for all of the potters, restaurants, businesses, and volunteers that come together each year to make this event possible, and to Landmark College for hosting us year after year,” said Groundworks Executive Director Josh Davis.  “We will miss the opportunity to see and greet all of the familiar faces and friends of this organization who come out every year for the Empty Bowls Dinner and we are grateful for all of the ways this community is coming together to help us in supporting our neighbors when we all need the help more than ever.”

Donations to Foodworks to support the Empty Bowls effort can be made at GroundworksVT.org/events and by mail to:  Groundworks Collaborative, PO Box 370, Brattleboro, VT 05302 (please make checks payable to Groundworks Collaborative and write “Empty Bowls” in the memo line to ensure the donation is designated to Foodworks).

For an interview, contact:

Libby Bennett, Director of Development & Communications

lbennett@GroundworksVT.org  |  802-451-0622