This Friday the Berkshire Food Project (BFP) will be holding its eighth biennial Empty Bowl Dinner, featuring handcrafted bowls donated by local potters as well as soups and bread provided by community restaurants. Entrance costs $25 ($15 if you donate meal points), for which you get soup, bread, dessert – and the bowl to keep.
Most students here are accustomed to events charging just a couple dollars – if there’s a charge at all – and so an Empty Bowl ticket sounds unreasonably pricey. However, if this is the sole reason holding you back, even when the bowls themselves are worth at least the ticket price, then you’ve missed the point. It’s not just about your Friday night plans. The Empty Bowl Dinner got its name to remind us of those whose bowls often go unfilled, and one person at the Dinner allows BFP to feed ten hungry people who live right down the road from us.
Who are these people? You can come meet some of them at the Berkshire Food Project, an alternative soup kitchen in North Adams. Most are elderly or disabled, many living alone on fixed incomes, and a surprising (and growing) number are young parents with their kids in tow. All of them have to stretch their incomes over rent, medicine and heat, especially during the long Berkshire winters. With all these factors being juggled, it’s easy for a hot, nutritious meal to become an elusive luxury.
Hunger was a serious issue facing the Berkshire community when Williams students first started BFP in 1986, but circumstances have yet to improve. A 2005-06 survey by Market Street Research found that 18.3 percent of households experienced food insecurity and 11 percent reported having experienced moderate to severe hunger. For over twenty years BFP has continued to provide hot, fresh meals every week. But it still needs your help.
Laura Huang ’11