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Wisconsin Empty Bowls Event Has Multiplication Effect

April 2014

Jesus knew how to multiply loaves and fish when hungry crowds showed up. And he was the life of the party when it came to table fellowship!

How do we live out Jesus' winsome ways in today's world? A recent Bread event in Menomonie, Wisc., showed a creative approach to doing just that.

The local Bread chapter, led by long-time activist Julie McNaughton, teamed up with the Menomonie Middle School student council on Mar. 1 for its annual Empty Bowls event. Nearly 500 people took part. The event featured a simple lunch of bread and soup served in bowls made by local university and high school ceramics classes, local potters, and the Chippewa Valley Woodturners Guild. There was also a silent auction and entertainment.

The event raised over $7,000 to support Stepping Stones Food Pantry and Shelter and the area’s Bread for the World team. In those generous donations, the event’s impact was multiplied locally to feed those in need in Wisconsin.

By engaging student leaders, it also helped nurture the next generation of hunger activists.

Yet even more, the event served as a kick-off to Bread's Offering of Letters campaign. As international students from the University Wisconsin Stout encouraged letter writing on site, over 20 local churches in the Menomonie area committed to take part in the Offering of Letters this spring. Their letters to Rep. Ron Kind and Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin will help multiply the impact that our nation’s international food aid programs can have, widening the table fellowship across the globe for families for whom food aid is a life-saving support. With smart, effective reforms, U.S. food aid could serve millions more people than it does under the current program.

"This is eye-opening," and "the bowls are just beautiful," were a couple of comments made by participants in the event. Participants went home with an empty bowl to remind them to think of hungry people year-round.

Simple soup and bread shared. Thoughtful letters written. Millions fed. A commitment to a place at the table for all. Jesus would enjoy a kingdom like that.

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