Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Small Acts Matter

For a couple of weeks I've been hoping to write a blog post that returns us to the notion of working to fight hunger and food insecurity.  I've had trouble finding the right words--without sounding (as I often do!) too self-righteous or political.  Then, on a long road trip with my family, we were listening to the car radio and happened to hear one of the many remarkable interviews aired weekly on the Morning Edition series called Storycorps, in which ordinary people talk with each other for a few minutes about something meaningful to them.  On this particular day, the story was about two friends.  I'll share the article about it below; please go to the Storycorps website to hear the actual interview:

Herman Travis (L) with his friend, Robert Cochran (R) at StoryCorps in San Francisco. Travis delivers groceries from a local food bank to his elderly neighbors, like Cochran.
 Courtesy of Storycorps 
Herman Travis, 55, lives in Holly Courts, a low-income housing complex in San Francisco.

Every Tuesday, Travis fills a shopping cart with groceries from a local food bank and makes home deliveries to his elderly and disabled neighbors. He started doing it in 2007 and says when he first started, people were skeptical.

"When I first started doing it. People was cautious. They didn't let me in their house, but after they got to really know me they would just be happy to see me," says Travis.

Robert Cochran, a neighbor of Travis who receives deliveries from him, says he loves the joy Travis gets out of making his rounds.

"I sometimes sit back and watch you," he told Travis. "And I seen the way you handle yourself with the residents. They know they treated with respect when they see you coming. And there are people in other complexes that have been trying to steal Herman for years ... to pay him to come and deliver their food for them. "

Cochran says it's the little things Travis does that make him such a good friend.

And it doesn't look like Herman Travis will stop delivering groceries any time soon.

"I'm doing something that people really need. And that makes me feel really good. So long as I have breath in my body I'm going to continue doing it. I sleep good at night," says Travis.

Produced for Morning Edition by Jasmyn Belcher Morris.
StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at
Only 29 days until our dinner.  Wishing a happy and peaceful New Year to our blog guests and to the Empty Bowls Project Committee at WMS.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Knightly News & Empty Bowls

WMS newspaper reporter Elnora A. wrote a piece about the Empty Bowls Project for the Fall 2014 issue of the Knightly News.  Thanks, Elnora!

Here's the text of the article:

Over the last few months, the WMS PTO has been holding bowl glazing events for the Empty Bowls Project. The Empty Bowls Project is a project to raise awareness for food insecurity. So far, there have been three glazing events. Three magical nights of laughing, talking, and, of course, glazing. So far, over 200 bowls have been glazed for the empty bowls dinner on January 28, 2015. During the empty bowls dinner, you can come and purchase a bowl and then, sit down to soup, donated by local restaurants, in your hand painted bowl. So how can you help with this anti-hunger cause? You can come to one of the last two glazing sessions, November 22, at the public library or December 11, at the Westbrook Town Hall, and glaze a bowl for this worthy cause. The Empty Bowls Soup Dinner will be on Wednesday, January 28, 2015, from 5-8 pm.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Special Thanks to Liz & Melissa

It takes a great number of dedicated volunteers to make an Empty Bowls Project possible.  And one thing is clear:  this  Empty Bowls Project would not be possible without the commitment, organization, and artistic vision of our bowl-glazing leadership team of Liz Egan and Melissa Ryan.  For many months, Liz and Melissa have imagined, designed, and prepared bowl-glazing sessions for hundreds of artists.  At each session, they have made guests feel welcome and inspired.  Throughout the process, they have believed strongly in the goal of addressing issues of food insecurity through creative work.  Now that the final glazing session is finished, they will continue to fire, photograph, and catalog bowls as we prepare for the Empty Bowls dinner in January.  So it seems fitting this week to take a moment to offer a special thanks to Liz and Melissa.  And we know they would like us to also thank the strong crew of parents, faculty, and students who have top-glazed bowls, washed brushes, and assisted guests along the way.  We can't wait to see all of the bowls set out for guests next month, and even better, we can't wait to see the bowls full of soup at our dinner.  Thank you!


Monday, December 15, 2014

Senior Center Hosts Final Glazing Event

Last Thursday was a cold day outside, but it was certainly warm and inviting in the basement of Town Hall.  Many thanks to Courtney and our friends at the Westbrook Senior Center for hosting the final bowl-glazing session for the Empty Bowls Project.  We enjoyed an afternoon of inspired glazing, interesting conversation, and a great spirit of community.  Thanks to Erik Becker and to Lydia from WHS for joining us, and to our WMS students who assisted and glazed as well.  Courtney provided pizza and great music.  We were so happy that seniors glazed with us and plan to join us at our January dinner.  Thanks for making this a perfect ending to the glazing phase of the Empty Bowls Project!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Daisy Staff and Friends Glaze Bowls

On December 4th, Mr. Biegaj, the art teacher at Daisy Ingraham, hosted a glazing session for Daisy teachers, staff, and their families.  Mr. Biegaj provided glazes and instruction, with assistance from Mrs. Egan and Melissa Ryan.  Later, he fired the bowls and delivered them back to WMS for our Empty Bowls Dinner on January 28th.  Superintendent Ciccone joined us to glaze, and Mrs. Rose dropped in to welcome everyone.  It was a relaxing and fun afternoon in the Daisy art room--thank you to all who made it possible! We hope many Daisy faculty, staff and families will join us on January 28th...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

WMS Students take Weekly Food Fact Quiz

This week, instead of finding a new Food Insecurity Fact on their lunch tables, students found a "Food Fact Quiz"!  The quiz was comprised of the weekly facts from the previous 5 weeks.  
Mrs. Selmont & Mrs. Overchuk will be scoring the quizzes and ALL students who receive a perfect score will have their names announced on the Morning News next week and two tickets will be entered into the monthly raffle on their behalf ! 

Take this QUIZ and find out!!

1.  True or False
   In 2013, 10.5 million households in America were affected by food insecurity

2.  True or False
Children who experience food insecurity are not at a higher risk for behavioral issues and social difficulties than other children.

3.  True or False

 In 2014, 25% of households served by the Connecticut Food Bank’s network of food pantries,   soup kitchens and shelters  report having to choose between buying food or buying medicine.

4.  True or False

Food insecurity is harmful to all people, but it is particularly devastating to children.

5.  Choose the correct answer to fill in the blanks  (Write 1, 2 or 3 on the line)
Every Year in the United States (a) ______% of food is thrown out. The cost of this food is worth about        (b)__________ dollars. All of this uneaten food could easily feed about (c)________ Americans.

1.     (a) 50%    (b)    $150 million    (c) 20 million

2.    (a) 40%    (b)    $165 billion     (c) 25 million

3.    (a) 25%    (b)    $100 million    (c) 200,000

Be on the lookout for the answers on another post coming soon...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

And We Have a Winner....

After two rounds of voting, the winner of the Empty Bowls Artwork contest has been chosen. Congratulations to Jamie M. on a job well done. 

Jamie's artwork was selected as the winner from over 50 entries.  Her artwork will be featured on the gift cards people have ordered for the holidays and the thank you cards that will be sent to sponsors once the dinner is over.

The committee selecting the winner all agreed that Jamie's picture captures the true spirit of the Empty Bowls project.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

New Sponsor: Ashlawn Farm

Welcome and thank you to Carol Dahlke and the folks at Ashlawn Farm for donating coffee for our Empty Bowls dinner.  And to all our readers, be sure to stop by Ashlawn--at their location in Lyme or Old Saybrook--to say thank you and to enjoy their wonderful food and coffee.  Ashlawn is yet another treasure of the shoreline.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Empty Bowls Artwork Contest

Congratulations to the 11 Contest Finalists

We received over 50 entries for the Empty Bowls artwork contest. These 11 drawings were selected as finalists by a panel of students, faculty and parents.  Congratulations on your effort and artistic talent. All of us were so impressed with all the entries we received. It was amazing to see how much talent is present in our student body.

The finalists will have their designs featured at the Empty Bowls Dinner, January 28, 2015 so the entire Westbrook community can see the wonderful talent and enthusiasm all of you have brought to this project.  We thank you for participating and hope to see you all at the dinner. 

**  The winner of the contest will be announced on Monday, December 8th, so please check back! **

Kyle C.
Micayla M.

Renee P.

Elnora A.

Jamie M.

Madeline H.

Micayla M.

Stephen B.

Hunter K.

Kyle C.

Maddy S.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Food Insecurity Fact of the Week

Students in Mrs. Overchuk's and Mrs. Selmont's classes as well as Westbrook Middle School Student Council members have been researching facts and statistics to help educate their classmates about what it means to be food insecure. Beginning in late October, weekly "Fact Cards" have been placed on each of the tables in the cafeteria during the lunch waves for the students to read and discuss. The weekly fact is also displayed on the Student Council bulletin board next to the nurse's office. 

Week 1:
True or False? Children who experience food insecurity are not at a higher risk for behavioral issues and social difficulties than other children.
Food insecure children may be at greater risk of truancy and school tardiness. When they are in school, they may also experience increases in behavior problems including: fighting, hyperactivity, aggression, anxiety, mood swings and bullying.

Week 2:

True or False? Food insecurity is harmful to all people, but it is particularly devastating to children.

ANSWER: True  
Proper nutrition is critical to a child’s development. Not having enough of the right kinds of food can have serious implications for a child’s physical and mental health, academic achievement and future economic prosperity.

Week 3:

True or False?
In 2013, 10.5 million households in America were affected by food insecurity.

According to the Feeding America Organization, 17.5 million households were food insecure in 2013.

Week 4:

Choose the correct answer to fill in the blanks.

Every Year in the United States (a) ______% of food is thrown out. The cost of this food is worth about (b)__________ dollars. All of this uneaten food could easily feed about (c)________ Americans.

1.     (a) 40%    (b)    $165 billion      (c) 25 million

2.     (a) 25%    (b)    $100 million    (c) 200,000

3.     (a) 50%    (b)    $150 million    (c) 20 million


Every year in the United States 40% is food is thrown out. The cost of this food is worth about $165 billion dollars. All of this uneaten food could easily feed about 25 million Americans. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bowl Glazing at Westbrook Public Library

So...we should be used to this story, but it surprises us every time.  Yesterday, the Westbrook Public library hosted a bowl glazing session, and during that two hours, almost 100 people joined us to glaze bowls.  The artists included children of all ages, parents, grandparents, library patrons, and friends from our community. EVERY BOWL WE BROUGHT TO THIS SESSION WAS GLAZED!  Thanks to all of you who joined us for a very special afternoon.

Children's Librarian Mrs. Mary Nyman was an extraordinary host for the event.  Thanks to Mary and to Lew Daniels for inviting us!  Liz Egan & Melissa Ryan provided their usual expert and kind guidance to artists.  Mrs. Ruth Rose, principal at Daisy Ingraham, brought many assorted pies as a gift to our glazers, AND she stayed and served the pies herself for the next two hours!  Thanks so much to Mrs. Rose and to Rose Orchards for their generosity.

Dawn, Jennifer, and I would also like to give our warmest thanks to the many volunteers who helped at this and our previous glazing sessions.  You did it all--assembled (and dis-assembled) tables, stacked chairs, washed brushes, served pie, made posters, organized glazes, scrubbed the floor, assisted guests, and spread the word about the event.  The Empty Bowls Committee has been a positive, generous, and dedicated team, and it continues to be an honor for us to work on this project with you.

The library event was our final open public glazing event.  We will hold two more smaller glazing sessions, one with the Daisy Ingraham Faculty and Staff (December 4th) and one at the Westbrook Senior Center (December 11th).

So enjoy this new collection of photos, and check out the rest of the blog for updates as well as for Empty Bowls dinner ticket information.  We hope you will join us on January 28th for the Empty Bowls Dinner!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dinner Tickets Can Now Be Ordered

We are so excited to announce that pre-ordering of tickets for the Empty Bowls Dinner has begun!

The dinner will be held January 28th from 5:00 - 8:00 pm at Westbrook Middle School.  It will feature a variety of soup selections from renowned shoreline restaurants and caterers along with bread and a wide selection of desserts.

Ordering Tickets, Reserving Bowls and Holiday Gifts

To learn more about various ticket options, reserving a bowl and purchasing holiday gifts, please click here.

We are happy to have two options for ordering and paying for tickets.

1) Click here to print the Order Form - Follow the instructions on the form

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thank You to Friends of the Library

Many thanks to the Friends of the Westbrook Public Library for their generous donation to the Empty Bowls Project.  Their donation will help pay expenses for bowl glazing and for the Empty Bowls Dinner in January.  The Westbrook Public Library has always been a vital and unifying presence in our community; it truly serves all residents of Westbrook and the shoreline as an educational and social space.  We thank them for sponsoring the Empty Bowls Project, and we look forward to a wonderful bowl-glazing session in the library community room this Saturday, November 22, from noon - 2pm.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Empty Bowls Project Appreciates Student Council

Thank you to  Student Council members and to the many other students who have offered their energy and research skills to help the Empty Bowls Project.  We appreciate your energy and ideas as we continue our glazing sessions, our educational campaign, and our preparations for the empty bowls dinner in January.  Your research has made it possible for "fact cards" about food insecurity to be distributed on the cafeteria tables and the Student Council bulletin board.  You have also been wonderful assistants at our bowl glazing sessions.  We count on your help in the sketch design contest going on right now--designing the cover of our empty bowls gift card; and we also need your help in planning the Empty Bowls Dinner on January 28th.  Thanks again for all you've done, and for the help we know you'll give us during the next 3 months! 

Last Chance for Families to Glaze Bowls!

This Saturday, November 22, from noon - 2pm, the Westbrook Public Library is hosting the final public glazing session for the Empty Bowls Project.  We invite all members of our community--and all ages-- to come and glaze a bowl with us.  The session will be led by art teacher Liz Egan and a staff of helpers.  The event is free and no experience is necessary.  And if it's not exciting enough to just glaze a bowl, we have a special treat:  Daisy Elementary Principal Ruth Rose and Rose Orchards are donating pies for you to sample during this session!  So come out this weekend and support the Empty Bowls Project!

Unified Arts at WMS

As the WMS community prepares for tomorrow's Fall Arts Festival, the Empty Bowls Project would like to send one more thank you to the unified arts faculty at our middle school.  They have generously donated $250 worth of glazes for use at our bowl glazing sessions.  In challenging budget times for schools, this donation means a great deal to us.  In addition, members of the unified arts faculty have also donated their time, expertise, and assistance to us as we hold our glazing sessions and plan the empty bowls dinner.   To all of our Empty Bowls' supporters, please be sure to go out tomorrow evening to enjoy the fall arts displays and performances at Westbrook Middle School, beginning at 6pm.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Thank You to Our Newest Sponsor

The Empty Bowls Project would like to thank the Belz Family and Paper, Plastic & More for their generous donation of paper products for our glazing sessions and our January 28th Empty Bowls dinner.  We're happy to add them to our sponsor page and to the list of community businesses that are supporting this project!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Rose Orchards Becomes a New Sponsor

Welcome to Rose Orchards of North Branford!  Many thanks to Ruth Rose, our new principal at Daisy Ingraham, for offering pies from Rose Orchards for our November 22nd glazing session at the Westbrook Public Library.  We can't wait to sample delicious pies as we glaze bowls for the Empty Bowls Dinner.

Please remember to support all of our sponsors by visiting them often--and remember while you're there to thank them for supporting our community through the Empty Bowls Project!