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.