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Fifth annual Ashland Empty Bowls supper Friday helps fight hunger

Healthy, organic, local food is one of the assets of living in the Rogue Valley. Despite this abundance, hundreds of people in Ashland find themselves with a scarcity of food. To address this need, Peace House sponsors the Empty Bowls Supper every year. Proceeds support groups that collect and distribute food: Uncle Foods Diner, the Ashland Emergency Food Bank, Food Angels, and Access. These organizations are the primary source of food for many. 

This year’s Empty Bowls Supper will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 13, in the First United Methodist Church’s Wesley Hall at 175 North Main St. in Ashland. Guests will choose handmade bowls made by local potters, which will then be filled with soups supplied by area restaurants and accompanied by bread from local bakeries. 

Tickets for the event are $25 for adults and $10 for students. There is free admission for potters who donate bowls and children under 12. Tickets may be purchased in Ashland at Paddington Station or Northwest Nature Shop, online at peacehouse.net/tickets, or at the door. 

Elizabeth Hallett, board chairman of Peace House, said, “Peace House is pleased to celebrate our 25th year sponsoring Uncle Foods Diner. It is a witness to the generosity of the area we live in and all who believe in a compassionate response to those who have seriously limited resources. Over the years, the Diner has expanded services to include more than just food, also offering the Compassionate Listening Project, a Mobile Dental Unit, veterinary care for animals, and a space for family meals.” 

Uncle Foods Diner happens every Tuesday at First United Methodist Church, with a generous meal prepared for 100 to 150 people, including families with small children. Peace House sponsors Uncle Foods, while Food Angels & the Ashland Emergency Food Bank supply food for the meal. As many as 40 volunteers appear each week to prepare and serve.

Ashland Emergency Food Bank serves 600 households a month, and Food Angels collects between 500-1,700 lbs. of food a day. Yet this is just barely meets the need. The demand may be even greater this year due to cutbacks in the federal SNAP program (Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps).

Empty Bowls is an international project to fight hunger founded in 1990 in Michigan by two art teachers whose idea was to organize a charitable event to give artists and art students a way to make a personal difference. The grassroots events are currently held in many areas of the United States and Canada and have raised millions of dollars to support food related charities around the world for hunger relief. 

Kathryn Thalden, co-chairman of the Empty Bowls Supper for Peace House, said, “I want to do my part to make sure not one person in our valley goes to bed hungry. It’s wonderful to know that I live in a place where we care for each other. Empty Bowls gives us a way to come together to share a dinner and support the neediest in our community.” 

Participating Jackson County restaurants include Greenleaf, Green Springs Inn, Amuse, Standing Stone Brewery, Pangea, C Street Bistro (Jacksonville), Howiee’s on Front (Medford), and Maren Faye Caterers. Bakeries include La Baguette, Organicos, Village Baker, Standing Stone Brewery, SunStone Bakery, and Rise Up! Artisan Bread. 

Soup will be served by prominent local residents. Mayor John Stromberg and members of the Ashland City Council will take the first shift from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., followed by other well-known personalities until 6:30. 

Potters from Ashland Art Center, Southern Oregon University and Clayfolks have been busy making bowls to donate to the event. Jazz pianist Alan Berman will provide music. 

Empty Bowls is especially grateful to financial sponsors of the event: Neuman Hotel Group, Patie Millen Group — John L. Scott Real Estate, Honoring Sanctuary One, Earth and Humanity Foundation, Sarah and Dr. William Epstein, Sid and Karen DeBoer, Treetops Foundation, and True South Solar.

For more information, call Peace House at 541-482-9625.