Chatfield Empty Bowls Project dinner set for Monday, preceding band, choir concert

By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Chatfield News

“We hold events like these because we are a community. We care for one another. As I just read from Eleanor Roosevelt: ‘We are all doing well, when All are doing well.’ Sometimes we need help, and the food shelves in our communities help us get through those tough times,” said Chatfield Lutheran Church Rev. Mark Docken.

He invites the community to join together at the fourth annual Chatfield Empty Bowls Project dinner set for Monday, March 18, at Chatfield High School’s newly-renovated cafeteria that will feature a menu of soup in bowls made by Chatfield students.

Chatfield High School’s Student Service Club is leading the work to make the meal happen, and area churches, including Chatfield Lutheran, Chatfield United Methodist and St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, are lending a hand as the international grassroots event benefits the Chatfield Community Food Shelf.

“The Empty Bowls event has been done elsewhere for many years, but this is only the fourth time in Chatfield, and it has grown each year,” Docken said. “March is Minnesota FoodShare Month, and so this is a great follow-up to that effort. Those attending may pick out a bowl that is decorated by the area youth as a reminder of those in our community who are hungry, as it is important to call attention to the food insecurities in our area, as well as raise money to assist the Chatfield Community and Fillmore County food shelves.”

Docken explained that the event will raise awareness of the food shelf and the need to continually give, and the Chatfield High School service club will be making posters with information and statistics about hunger and the need to support the food shelf.

He pointed out that in 2018, the Chatfield Community Food Shelf served an average of 31 households per month. This includes 36 children, 46 adults and 12 seniors per month. A total of 17,822 pounds of food was distributed in 2018.

The pastor highlighted the importance of the gathering and the meal — the Empty Bowls dinner provides a contrast to typical church or community meals where everyone’s plate is almost too full.

Docken observed, “This is a meal when we encourage people to eat enough. There is enough food in the world if everyone just ate enough and we distributed the food to all. The biblical image of manna in the wilderness is our model. With the manna, God taught the people that there is enough for everyone, but that hoarding stinks. With our busy schedules, we can easily get caught up in our own little world of getting through one day to the next. The Empty Bowls event gives us an opportunity to pause, reflect on our responsibility to our neighbor, give to our neighbor, and enjoy some really good soup, knowing it is enough.”

The Chatfield Empty Bowls Project dinner is slated for Monday, March 18, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., with the Chatfield High School Festival Band and Choir Concert to follow at 7.

“You are invited for a wonderful evening of soup and music,” Docken said. “Free will donations will be received and donations will be divided, with three-quarters to the Chatfield Community Food Shelf and one quarter to the Fillmore County food shelves. Please come, enjoy a bowl of soup, and receive a bowl decorated by our local youth.”

Docken stated the food shelf is available for anyone who needs a hand in making ends meet.

“The Chatfield Community Food Shelf is open two days a week — Tuesdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m., and Fridays from 9 to 10:30 a.m.,” he said. “We would welcome anyone who is interested in volunteering with the food shelf, and we are very appreciative of support, both financial and food donations, which the Chatfield community has been providing. We are looking forward to the continued support of the residents of Chatfield.”

In conclusion, Docken said, “Sometimes, it is hard for people to ask for help or receive help, and so there are people who could benefit from the food pantry but don’t avail themselves of the gift. All of us, at some time, need to recognize that receiving assistance is a gift to the giver.”