Martha’s Table seeks funds to feed impoverished

The 14th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser hopes to raise $22,000 in order to provide meals for the hungry

Ronda Candy, left, prepares a dinner with volunteers at Martha’s Table.
Ronda Candy, left, prepares a dinner with volunteers at Martha’s Table.

This year, Martha’s Table is hoping to keep their bowls filled.

The drop-in dining centre is holding their 14th annual Empty Bowls Fundraiser, an initiative that stands alongside their other social welfare programs. These include art classes and providing inexpensive dining for those in need.

The fundraiser, which takes place Oct. 27 at the University Club, is the centre’s main fundraising event of the year.

The money raised from the fundraiser will be put towards food costs, so that the year-round drop-in dining centre can continue offering free lunch and dollar dinners for their guests.

Last year, Martha’s Table served about 47,000 meals to Kingston citizens in need. Ronda Candy, the executive director of Martha’s Table, said she expects this number to rise by 1,000 this year.

“[Empty Bowls] is our main source of revenue,” she said.

The guests will be able to choose from the bowls and have their soup served in it before taking it home.

“The whole idea of the fundraiser is that guests buy a ticket for $30 ... [and] select a bowl and keep it,” she said.

Local potters have prepared and donated 550 unique handmade bowls and about 25 local restaurants have donated soup for the event, she added.

In 2011, Empty Bowls raised about $19,000, but Candy said she is expecting to match last year’s total fundraised amount of $22,000.

Around 325 tickets have been sold, with only a little over 30 left up for grabs. The event sees three time slots, serving up to 130 people each time.

“We have a lot of repeat attendees, and some people are just waiting [all year] for the tickets to go on sale,” Candy said.

The fundraiser sees much volunteer contribution, from the venue’s donated booking to the people assisting at the event.

“The [volunteer] roster filled up very fast. I don’t have to search for anyone … the volunteers really want to help so it was easy to find 60 people,” she said. Candy said that the event is a nice way to bring together the community and directly thank supporters.

“We get to see a lot of people that support us and it’s nice to be able to thank them in person,” Candy said.

Martha’s Table offers a variety of nutritious and balanced meals to their guests daily. They are looking to add to the services in which they already provide.

“We are starting a Tuesday afternoon music group,” she said. “We are encouraging people to sing and learn how to sing.”

In the near future, Candy said they’re hoping to provide computer classes and have a nurse and lawyer on site for one-on-one consultations. “We are looking to expand on the … [services] we offer that don’t infringe on the meal program itself,” she said.

Empty Bowls is taking place in three time slots at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m, at the University Club, located at Stuart St. and University Ave.

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