The loss of local jobs has forced "an unprecedented amount of hard-working men and women" through the doors of Catholic Charities’ Emergency Service Center, according to Lindsay Winters.
"Compared to June 2008, this June we experienced a 54-percent increase in unduplicated households accessing the food pantry. A significant number of those individuals and families were receiving emergency food assistance for the first time," said Winters, who serves as development director for Catholic Charities of Chemung and Schuyler Counties.
Winters stressed that community support is more vital than ever for the fourth-annual Empty Bowls Luncheon, held in conjunction with World Food Day. The gathering is coming up on Tuesday, Oct. 20, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Elmira College Campus Center.
Several options remain available to support this initiative. Discount pre-event tickets are on sale for $25 each; Empty Bowls event T-shirts are $12 each; and sponsorships are welcomed as well. For details, contact Catholic Charities at 607-734-9784.
Winters said that the Empty Bowls event has raised more than $60,000 for poverty-relief efforts over its three-year history. All proceeds benefit the Emergency Service Center, located at 360 S. Main St. in Elmira. This facility was created in March 2009 with the joining of the Samaritan Center and Second Place East Homeless Services. The center provides access to such services as emergency shelter, food pantry and clothing, as well as assistance with housing, rent, utilities and prescription-drug purchases.
"It is critical that the Empty Bowls event is successful, if we are going to continue to respond to the needs of our community," Winters added.
Empty Bowls was begun in the early 1990s by a high-school class in Michigan and has grown into a national grassroots movement for hunger awareness. Attendees learn about local poverty issues, and each guest receives a commemorative soup bowl prepared by artistically inclined volunteers. The Empty Bowls initiative in Elmira has been supported in its first three years by numerous area businesses and organizations.