Sunapee Empty Bowls Dinner

Sunapee Empty Bowls Dinner

Every November, students raise funds for the local food pantry and raise awareness about world hunger.

By Laura Jean Whitcomb

Photography by Lucy Thompson

Homemade soup in a homemade bowl, which you can bring home. Not only is this fundraising dinner a treat, it is a reminder that “some people may not be able to fill their own bowls,” says Skylar Hathorn, a senior at Sunapee High School.

Empty Bowls was created more than 25 years ago in a high school ceramics class in Michigan and the concept has spread throughout the United States as an effort to raise both money and awareness in the fight to end hunger.

Sunapee’s Empty Bowls Dinner started three years ago when Sunapee Middle/High School (SMHS) math and science teacher Sharon Parsons “heard about this event happening in other communities and approached the Service Club with the idea of making it an annual event in Sunapee,” says Hathorn.

The Service Club is an organization at SMHS open to middle and high school students who have an interest in giving back to their community in a variety of ways. There are about 50 students and three teachers who participate.

The dinner fits right in with the group’s mission and the funds raised from the Empty Bowls event provides holiday meals and supplies to local families through the Sunapee Food Pantry.

The dinner is held in The Livery in Sunapee Harbor, a gorgeous historical building decorated with white twinkle lights. Tables are set with glassware, utensils, cloth napkins, bowls of bread and pats of butter. Patrons select their bowl, made by art students from Sunapee Middle/High School and Sunapee Central Elementary School (SCES), and choose a seat.

After an introduction by Parsons, students from the Service Club — hosts for the evening — fill your water glass and take your soup order. In 2019, soups were made by Kathleen Cook (Italian wedding soup), Loretta Dewey (chili), Joyce Murphy-Gale and the SMHS Foods Class (butternut squash) and Katie Blewitt (tomato bisque). Dessert is also served; last year’s choices were apple and pear crisps topped with vanilla ice cream.

“The students love to take charge of this event each year,” says Hathorn. “Last year, one student took on the project as her Senior Capstone Project and raised the most money to date.”

Students contribute by selling tickets and hanging flyers, making and glazing bowls, baking goods and finding community members willing to donate food, completing the food pantry shopping, and volunteering during the dinner, which seated 85 people in its second year and xx people in its third year.

The event is a wonderful way to give back to the community.

“Empty Bowls brings the community together in a very unique way. The community is usually brought together through sporting events and holiday activities, so it is heartwarming to see the community dedicate their time to such an important cause,” says Hathorn. “With the money raised, we were able to donate 35 bags full of food for families in need during the holiday season.”

Tickets are $20 per person and can be reserved in advance. Proceeds support the Sunapee Food Pantry.

“We hope to continue this tradition for the years to come,” says Hathorn.

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