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Annual Empty Bowls Dinner to benefit Amherst Survival Center

The fifth Empty Bowls Dinner takes place Monday from 4 to 8 p.m. at The Pub, 15 East Pleasant St.

Jan Eidelson, president of the Amherst Survival Center’s Board of Directors, said the event is a way to bring townspeople together for a worthy cause.

“Community is making this happen and community will benefit from this,” Eidelson said.

Each person who buys a ticket for $30, gets to select a bowl created either by a local potter or a high school art student. Then, the servers, who include school principals and Select Board members, fill the bowls with soup. Diners then choose either cider or water as a beverage before sitting at a table where Pub waitstaff, who are also volunteering their time, bring salad and bread. Eidelson said 12 restaurants are contributing either soup or other food.

There will be music throughout the evening.

This year an anonymous donor has agreed to match any tips left in the jars placed on the tables. That money also goes to the Survival Center. In addition, there will be a raffle for a piece made by glass artist Josh Simpson.

Eidelson said the goal is to raise at least $20,000, all of which will support the center’s $400,000 budget and the 4,000 people who annually visit the Sunderland Road building for food, clothing and other services.

Survival Center Director Cheryl Zoll said the dinner embodies the center’s work. “It feels like a natural extension of what we already do,” she said.

Zoll said there is a growing need as demonstrated by a 50 percent increase in those who came to the daily meals in January compared to a year earlier.

“It’s especially important now,” she said. “We’ve been seeing many, many more people recently.”

Zoll said the center doesn’t depend on federal support, so the sequestration is unlikely to have an immediate impact. But she said if people lose jobs or income, or have their unemployment or food benefits diminished, this may put more pressure on the services.

Tickets can be purchased at AJ Hastings, 45 South Pleasant St., at The Pub or online at www.amherstrsurvival.org.

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