Students to use culinary skills for food bank fundraiser

Food and art have had a long standing relationship, and many people consider cooking to be a form of art. A group of teachers and students at State College Area High School are lending their artistic and culinary talents to provide food to needy families in the Centre Region.

For the first time in several years, State College Area High School will hold an Empty Bowls fundraising dinner to benefit the Food Bank of the State College Area, whose mission is to provide emergency food to those in need in the State College area and to support the network of food pantries in Centre County.

Empty Bowls 2011 will be held for two seatings at 6 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Chatter’s Cafe in the State College Area High School South Building, 653 Westerly Parkway. Guests will receive a hand-crafted bowl and mug, along with a four-course dinner of gourmet soups, artisan breads, salad, desserts, and coffee/tea.

Guests also will be treated to live jazz by bass player Jeff Beck, coordinator of the event, and guitarist Mac Himes and drummer Kevin Lowe. The cost per ticket is $40, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefitting the Food Bank.

According to www.emptybowls.net, the organization is an international grassroots effort created by The Imagine Render Group to fight hunger. The basic premise is that potters and other craftspeople, educators and others created handcrafted bowls and invite guests to a meal of soup and bread. The money raised is donated to an organization working to end hunger. Beck, an art teacher at State High, said that the Empty Bowls project was organized for many years by James Ritchie, the retired head of the art department. But the fundraiser hasn’t taken place for the last few years.

For the past four months, Beck, his art students and Ritchie have been creating the bowls and mugs that will be offered at the dinner. The food is being prepared by Jeremiah Dick, a culinary arts instructor at State High, while the breads are being baked by Lisa Kirschner, a community volunteer.

In addition to helping feed the hungry, Beck said, the Empty Bowls project is a demonstration of "how important some of these elective classes are and how powerful these collaborations can be."

"You can see how important an art program is in a community," he said.
The registration deadline for the Empty Bowls dinner is the morning of May 11. To order tickets, visit www.statecollegefoodbank.org. Utilizing your green thumb Gardening enthusiasts, take note: The 2011 Plant Celebration & Garden Sale will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 14 at the Centre Furnace Mansion, 1001 E. College Ave., State College. The event is a fundraiser for the Centre County Historical Society, a nonprofit organization that works with local, regional, county and state organizations in helping to preserve and promote the area's historic, cultural and natural resources.

The Plant Celebration and Garden Sale will feature more than 100 kinds of perennials and annual flowers, herbs, and small shrubs and trees.

Penn State Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer gardening questions.
For more information, visit www.centrecountyhistory.org or call the historical society at 234- 4779. Stephanie Koons writes this weekly column featuring the Centre Region. Contact her at 235-3927 or skoons@centredaily.com.

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