by Victoria Kuz

The Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture hosted a community meal to raise money for Planting for the Pantry, a CCUA farm program providing fresh produce to local food pantries.

The event was held Sunday, March 19 at Missouri United Methodist Church. Attendees were served free soup and bread.

Attendees were served free soup and bread at the event.

Anyone who chose to donate at the event could take home a handmade clay bowl. Elementary students at Lee, Paxton Keeley and Derby Ridge schools created the bowls while learning about world hunger in their health and sciences curriculum.

“Those bowls are a symbol of the hunger and the empty bowls throughout our community and throughout the world, that we need to be aware of and spread what we have,” CCUA Development Director Adam Saunders said.

Lee Elementary teacher Valerie Schoeneberg said that the project positively affected her third-grade students.

“They really have gotten a glimpse into their part in the community,” Schoeneberg said. “Third graders are old enough to start realizing that there is a greater world around them, and through our partnership with CCUA and the Empty Bowls project we get to see that we can make a difference.”

The students wrote six-word stories about global hunger on the bowls and made the project a group effort.

“No one student made one bowl — [the bowls] were passed along in the creation process,” Schoeneberg said.

This is the second year the Empty Bowls Project has been hosted in Columbia. Jim Ronald coordinated last year’s event.

“Empty Bowls was started in Michigan around 1990 by an art teacher and a local potter,” Ronald said. “The bowls being representative of hunger in the community. The idea caught on … and it’s gone from community to community,”

According to its website, Empty Bowls is based within the nonprofit organization Imagine Render.

“Those bowls are a symbol of the hunger and the empty bowls throughout our community and throughout the world, that we need to be aware of and spread what we have,” CCUA Development Director Adam Saunders said.

Handmade clay bowls were given to anyone who donated at the event.

Planting for the Pantry has been in operation since 2013. It is donation-based and gets its produce from the Urban Farm located at the corner of Smith and Fay streets in Columbia.

According to the CCUA website, donors can sponsor a row at the farm for $5 per square foot. Each dollar donated is split into three ways: 50 cents help grow the produce, 25 cents support CCUA education and outreach efforts and 25 cents goes to the organization’s endowment fund.

The farm’s produce supply to the pantry runs in the thousands.

“Urban Farm has, in the past, supplied over 10,000 servings [of produce],” Ronald said.

Saunders said that the farm’s goal this year is to have all the rows sponsored for the pantry. He supports CCUA’s plans to expand the Urban Farm to a permanent location.

“[The project is] a public-private partnership with Parks and Rec … to build an agriculture park here in Columbia where we’ll move our urban farms to a bigger site and we’ll work with the farmers market to have a permanent venue,” Saunders said. “There’ll be more information released in the spring.”

Wade Sanders, member of Missouri United Methodist Church, worked with the men’s group at MUMC to sponsor the project this year. The group assisted with setup and takedown at the event.

“We were privileged and honored to be able to participate and help out,” Sanders said.

Bleu Events donated the bread, and Columbia Area Career Center Culinary Arts provided the soup and gumbo for the Empty Bowls community meal.

Edited by Aviva Okeson-Haberman | arodn9@mail.missouri.edu

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