Community rallies to support April 14 Empty Bowls event to benefit Wilton Food Pantry

Members of the Skidmore community are partnering with friends of the Wilton Food Pantry on the second annual Empty Bowls lunch, scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 14, at the Saratoga-Wilton Elks Lodge 161, on Route 9.

Ceramics students of Associate Professor of Art Matt Wilt have created 150 bowls for the event. In addition, members of the Dining Services team are contributing their expertise in preparation of the food to be served on Sunday.

The premise of Empty Bowls is simple: each attendee chooses a unique handcrafted bowl and fills it with a simple meal of soup or chili and bread. The fee for the meal includes the bowl, which people may take home after the event as a reminder of neighbors faced with empty bowls every week.

"Each bowl at this event is a true vessel of hope, the proceeds from which allow the Pantry to purchase 93 pounds of food from the Regional Food Bank," noted WFP Board President Deb Zellan

In addition to the handmade ceramic bowls and food, the afternoon will feature live music by John & Orion Kribs, with fiddler Doug Moody as a special guest. A silent auction will be held from 1 to 3:30 p.m. with items including a gas grill, his and hers vintage Schwinn bikes, jewelry, shopping, dining, golf, art and more.

 "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, volunteerism, generational ties-and working together to resolve food insecurity and provide good nutrition, which makes for a healthier Wilton," said event organizer and WFP board member Dennis Towers, whose company, McKinley Griffen Design & Advertising, is providing its services free of charge to the pantry.

"This event is the single largest source of funds to operate this all-volunteer food pantry, and it is a rare opportunity to build community within the town of 16,000 residents," Towers added. 

Residents of Wilton can 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 more than 24,000 meals in 2012.

The families that utilize Wilton Food Pantry services are educated about nutrition, food origins, and meal preparation. "Chef Ben Niese of Skidmore, who was involved at our first Empty Bowls last year, is now a regular volunteer. Ben will look at the inventory that 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," explained Zellan.

Advance tickets are $15 at or at the three Wilton branches of Saratoga National Bank. Admission at the door (if bowls are available) will be $20. For more details, please visit

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