Tiger Pantry hosts Empty Bowls, announces outreach plans

Tiger Pantry will begin taking part in SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, in the state of Missouri.
Cameron Thomas / Graphic Designer

Tiger Pantry announced their plans to continue outreach to help members of the MU community through food donations. They recently participated in a fundraiser last week, called Empty Bowls.

The fundraiser provided participants soup in a handcrafted bowl, which they could take home after the event. It was $10 for students, and $15 for faculty, staff and the public. The money gathered will go to providing food assistance to students, faculty and staff of the university.

The event also marked Tiger Pantry’s second birthday.

“We wanted to do something special and have an anniversary event … while also supporting local artists and the MU community in need of food,” said Shannon Orbe, a senior and executive board member of Tiger Pantry.

Amy Hay, the special events and outreach coordinator for the Craft Studio, said the 200 bowls that participants could choose from were crafted by students, faculty, staff and supporters of MU.

After choosing a bowl, attendees were able to have their choice of three soups. Vegan tomato soup was provided by sponsor Main Squeeze and both chicken noodle soup and loaded baked potato soup were provided by sponsor Wheatstone Bistro. Bread and water were also provided.

The fundraiser was founded by The Imagine Render Group, a national non-profit organization that promotes social change through the arts.

“Empty Bowls is a nationwide campaign that has a platform that communities can then take and adapt to what is needed in that area, so we’ve modeled our event after them,” Orbe said.

Empty Bowls events throughout the country have included sculptors, glass blowers and painters.

Tiger Pantry utilized social media to inform the community about Empty Bowls, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go toward the pantry for food.

“We collaborated with the Craft Studio on Twitter and would post pictures of the bowls offered,” Orbe said. “We didn’t want to just target students, so we sent a press release to as many faculty and administrators as we could.”

The 12 members of the Tiger Pantry executive board were present at Empty Bowls, with the almost 30 Tiger Pantry volunteers coming in and out throughout the event.

Orbe started off as a full-time volunteer and is now the resource coordinator for Tiger Pantry.

“I’m continuing to learn so much while giving back to the Mizzou community,” she said.

Tiger Pantry also used Empty Bowls to promote a new project. Starting Oct. 12, Tiger Pantry will begin taking part in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program, is a federal program that offers food purchasing assistance to those who are eligible.

“We’re going to help clients of our pantry apply for SNAP benefits,” Orbe said. “A lot of times, it is very time-consuming to go down to the Social Services Office. There’s sometimes a lot people just waiting, so we are trying to provide a convenient, friendly and confidential place where our clients can come and figure out if they’re eligible and to get a walk-through of the application.”

Tiger Pantry has worked to educate the community on the use of food stamps, including ways to eat healthy on a food-stamp budget.

They will be hosting Melanie Hickcox, the Missouri Food Bank Association’s SNAP project manager, on Oct. 8 for a discussion on food stamps, to make the community more aware of hunger on campus and the perceptions of food stamps.

“We’ve been working on (the project) for a while now and are really excited about it,” said Orbe who worked with Hickcox during her visit. “(Hickcox) came in and trained all of our executive board and all of our volunteers and pantry managers, so we are finishing up all the final procedures and can’t wait to launch in a week.”

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