, Gloucester, MA

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May 10, 2013

Empty bowls, full tables

Benefit draws crowd to Cruiseport

The Open Door’s annual Empty Bowl Dinner drew some 1,000 diners to Cruiseport Gloucester Thursday night — all of whom partook of a meal of soup, bread and a cookie in an event that has become as rich in symbolism as it is in nutrition.

This year’s event sought to raise money supporting the Open Door agency’s summer lunch programs for schoolchildren, and the Open Door’s “mobile markets,” projects that provide fresh fruits and vegetables in four local public housing facilities, at Veterans’ Memorial School and at Pathways for Children.

And while most of the bowls — each hand-painted by local artists ranging from school students to elderly residents painting in a senior center — were used for the meal, then taken home by the diners, who paid $15 apiece, others were set aside and sold during a special auction that featured bowls fired and/or painted by professional artists and even local political leaders.

While the Empty Bowl Dinner once again served as a community gathering, Open Door Executive Director Julie LaFontaine emphasized throughout the week that the bowls shouldn’t be viewed simply as “souvenirs” from the popular benefit.

“They’re meant as reminders that, somewhere, someone’s bowl is empty,” she said.

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