EDITORIAL: Empty Bowls

By NEMS Daily Journal

The 12th annual Empty Bowls Luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday – Ash Wednesday – in Tupelo provides a modest and simple meal to help fund the Salvation Army’s food ministry. It’s the best kind of opportunity for people from across our region and every walk of life to ensure that a basic necessity is met for those in need.
The luncheon, organized by the Women’s Auxiliary of the Salvation Army, offers nourishing custom-made soup, bread and water for a donation of $12, and in 2009 more than 2,000 generous people responded at the event in Building 5 at the Tupelo Furniture Market.
The luncheon at first was held at the Salvation Army’s Tupelo headquarters on Carnation Street, but its success required a larger venue, and in 2008, V.M. Cleveland began donating space at Tupelo Furniture Market, which he owns.
The Empty Bowls idea is much more broadly used than just in Tupelo. Empty Bowls is an international project: “The basic idea for Empty Bowls is simple: Participants create ceramic bowls, then serve a simple meal of soup and bread. Guests choose a bowl to use that day and to keep as a reminder that there are always empty bowls … In exchange for the meal and the bowl, guests give a suggested minimum donation … The meal’s sponsors and/or guests choose a hunger-fighting organization to receive the money collected. Empty Bowls began in Michigan in the spring of 1991.”
Empty Bowls is a remarkable Tupelo event for an extraordinary ministry helping people who are homeless, displaced, penniless and otherwise dependent on the good will and good graces of others, at least for a time.
The Army staff and volunteers prepare and serve about 50,000 meals every year at the lodge on Carnation Street – and it is amazingly frugal: It can furnish a meal for an average cost of 16 cents per pound of food.
Many of Tupelo’s restaurants and other volunteers prepare and donate their prize soup recipes, and they are joined by hundreds of others – individuals and businesses – who make and give baked goods, desserts, complete meals and gift items available for sale.
Potters from across the region “throw” bowls and donate them to give to each donor.
Information about the luncheon, donations and purchases is available by calling or e-mailing either of two long-time volunteer organizers:
– Barbara Vaughn: (662) 842-1491 or (662) 401-8040, or bnvaughn1491@comcast.net; or,
n Marguerite Johnson: (662) 842-8588 or (662) 231-2879, or mdj319@comcast.net.
Call (662) 842-9222 today for information about curb service.

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