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AMHERST — The Amherst Survival Center will host its 15th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser on Saturday, April 1 from noon to 4 p.m. at the center’s site at 138 Sunderland Road, North Amherst. Empty Bowls brings the community together to fight hunger and raise funds for the center’s programs, ensuring that area residents have access to the food they need.

This year, Empty Bowls will again offer in-person dining at the center, with service from local celebrities, including state legislators, town leaders, and special guests. There will also be options for attendees to take their soup to-go. Guests select a unique, handcrafted bowl made by a local artist and choose between a dozen soups donated by local restaurants and freshly baked bread. Meat, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free soup options will be available. The keepsake bowl is theirs to keep as a reminder of all the other bowls they have helped to fill. Soft drinks are included, and wine and hard cider are available for purchase (cash only).

“This annual event funds the critical food and nutrition programs that provided more than 1.2 million meals to 7,500 of our neighbors last year. Right now, with costs at the grocery store so high and the end of pandemic SNAP benefits, we are seeing unprecedented need: 25% higher than the peak surges of the pandemic and rising. We are also seeing record numbers of families coming to the center for the very first time,” said Lev Ben-Ezra, executive director of the Amherst Survival Center. “I am grateful to be a part of a community where we support each other, and where we know that everyone should have the food they need. Empty Bowls is a beautiful opportunity to put that value into action.”

Tickets cost $50 and are available online at www.amherstsurvival.org/emptybowls or by calling the Amherst Survival Center at (413) 549-3968, ext. 108. Guests who don’t want a handmade bowl may also choose soup-only tickets for adults ($30) or for children ($10). Children 2 and under are free. Tickets can also be purchased in person on the day of at the event.

The event will also include a raffle with prizes including a handblown glass platter from Josh Simpson, a photoshoot with professional photographer Isabella Dellolio, a private wine tasting from Provisions, and more. Raffle tickets cost $10 each or three for $25. Empty Bowls keepsake aprons will also be available for purchase, and all donations on top of ticket purchases will be matched by presenting sponsor Greenfield Savings Bank up to $5,000. Raffle ticket or apron purchases and additional donations can be made online while purchasing tickets, or in person at the event.

“Empty Bowls is an inspiring event that brings our community together to help end food insecurity in our community. Greenfield Savings Bank is proud to sponsor and support the Amherst Survival Center in their mission to help people in our community,” said Thomas Meshako, president and CEO of Greenfield Savings Bank.

With the involvement and support of Greenfield Savings Bank, full bowls sponsors Mass General Brigham Cooley Dickinson Hospital and PeoplesBank, as well many other business sponsors, local restaurants, and volunteers, the proceeds from Empty Bowls directly benefit the Amherst Survival Center’s programs and services. A full list of sponsors, soup makers, and potters is available at www.amherstsurvival.org/emptybowls.

Daily News

AMHERST — UMass Dining Services will host its 11th annual UMass 5K Dash and Dine on campus Saturday, April 9, at 9 a.m., after a two-year hiatus. The goal of the event is to promote health and wellness at the university while raising funds for the Amherst Survival Center. In total, UMass dining has been able to raise more than $50,000 for the center.

The 5K features a USA Track and Field-certified course to runners, walkers, and wheelchair participants. When race participants are finished, all are welcome to have lunch at the award-winning Dining Commons on campus.

“It’s fantastic to see the UMass community come together for such a great cause. We’re a big believer in building community through food, and this event is another shining example of this. I’m extremely proud of our team and what we are able to accomplish,” said Ken Toong, executive director of Auxiliary Enterprises.

The race fee is $10 for all UMass and Five College students, $15 for UMass Amherst faculty and staff, and $20 for the general public. Children age 8 and under may participate for free. This race fee includes registration and the complimentary meal at the Hampshire or Berkshire Dining Commons. Online registration ends at 11:59 p.m. today, April 6, but walk-up registration is available on race day. To register for the event or make a donation, visit runumass.com.

“We are so excited to see Dash and Dine return,” Amherst Survival Center Executive Director Lev Ben-Ezra said. “This event is such a perfect fundraiser for the center. It is all about community, everyone pitching in, and world-class cooking. A huge thank you to everyone who makes it possible and comes out to join. See you there!”

Daily News

AMHERST — Last week, Hannah Rechtschaffen, director of Placemaking for the Mill District, and Andy Haase of Cowls Building Supply delivered more than 400 games purchased by W.D. Cowls Inc. to the Amherst Survival Center, augmenting dozens of community donations already collected and delivered from North Amherst Motors, the Toy Box, North Square Apartments in the Mill District, and Cowls Building Supply.

“All December at Mill District seasonal events, we invited donations of puzzles and games for the Survival Center,” Rechtschaffen said. “W.D. Cowls agreed to match those donations, and then some. We’re so proud to be able to build community in people’s homes this winter, when it’s really difficult to be together in person.”

Last month, Lev Ben-Ezra, executive director of the Amherst Survival Center, outlined to Cinda Jones, president of W.D. Cowls, how the community could help her cause this winter. Ben-Ezra explained that the center was looking for ways to brighten the winter for families stuck at home, including craft kits, valentines, and other fun activities. Her hope for February was to distribute more than 400 games and puzzles to local families, and she asked the Mill District for help generating donations.

“This is going to be a long, challenging winter,” Ben-Ezra said. “We want to help offset the pending February doldrums with a little laughter and fun.”

Now, with more than 500 games donated in January, the Amherst Survival Center is providing families with games and activities along with groceries in February.

“The Survival Center — and the Mill District — are places where, in normal times, community is made and where people connect,” Jones said. “It’s been difficult connecting meaningfully this year during a global pandemic. We’re delighted Lev asked us to join her, inspiring unforgettable moments for families at home, while we can’t enjoy time together in North Amherst.”

Added Ben-Ezra, “we’re so grateful that the community has come through again for the Survival Center. We’re accomplishing so much this year for families in need, despite hard times and health challenges.”

Community members who want to help the Amherst Survival Center serve more families can donate online at amherstsurvival.org/donate. There’s even a gift catalog of direct-giving opportunities to meet specific needs.

“Contributing to the success of the Survival Center, you receive so much more than you give,” Jones said. “Your time and donations are amplified by regional support from farms and restaurants and grocery stores and hundreds of volunteers on the ground. There’s nothing more satisfying than helping Lev make a difference.”

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