Community members gather to raise hunger awareness, eat meal
COLUMBIA - "Empty bowls" events have happened all over the country to help raise awareness of hunger in the community, and on Sunday afternoon, mid-Missouri was no exception.
The Missouri United Methodist Church invited community members to eat a free meal of bread from Bleu Events, gumbo from the Columbia Area Career Center Culinary Arts and water between 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The church accepted donations to support the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture's food philanthropy project, Planting for the Pantry. The donations help ensure fresh food gets distributed to local food pantries.
"One of the things that you'll find with food banks and so on is they get a lot of non-perishable food, but of course, fruits and vegetables are really prized because they're delicious and fresh and tasty and nutritious, and all those kinds of things," said Ellen Thomas, a CCUA board member.
She said more people go hungry than the average person might realize.
"If you only have a little bit of money to buy food, you don't want to buy things that are potentially gonna go bad in the refrigerator or whatever, and so it's hard with those limited resources to choose some of the healthiest foods," Thomas said.
After giving donations, people could take home handmade, colorful ceramic bowls. Students from Lee, Derby Ridge and Paxton Keeley elementary schools, and volunteers from Access Arts made the bowls.
Thomas said last year they made more than 700 bowls, and there were even more this year.