LINWOOD — The soup was on Sunday at the Empty Bowls fundraiser at Seaview Elementary School, and the money collected will help feed hungry children and families throughout the area.
Hundreds of people came to buy a handmade clay bowl and taste soup from 26 restaurants and caterers around the region for the charity event, which raised $3,000.
Proceeds will go to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey Southern Branch in Egg Harbor Township, the Jewish Family Service in Margate and the Hopeful Grounds Café in Atlantic City, according to PTO co-president Jessica Goldstein, who organized the event with co-president Erica Winters.
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Hopeful Grounds is a coffee shop next to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission that operates through donations and allows people to pay what they wish, according to Brent Kolmer, who spoke at the Empty Bowls event.
The Jewish Family Service Food Pantry serves more than 2,000 individuals and households annually, according to Beth Joseph, director of communication and donor relations at Jewish Family Service. She said the contributions from the Linwood schools are appreciated and are important to the JFS mission of serving the community throughout the year.
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The Community FoodBank works to alleviate hunger through an array of feeding programs and collaborations with more than 300 community partners in Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties, according to www.cfbnj.org
Restaurants and caterers arrived with huge pots of soup and portable burners to keep it hot. They set up around the perimeter of the cafeteria, and guests made their way to station to station to taste as many as they wished.
The Sutherlund family of Somers Point was rating the soups, and each member had a favorite.
Andrew Sutherlund said the broccoli and cheddar soup from Steve & Cookie's by the Bay in Margate was the best, while the chicken and shrimp gumbo from One Wish Catering in Egg Harbor Township got the vote of his mom, Andrea Sutherlund.
His dad, Thomas Sutherlund, said it was a tie between the sweet and sour cabbage soup from Downbeach Deli in Margate and the winter butternut squash and lentil soup from the Bare Knuckle Café in Egg Harbor Township.
“This was such a great cooperative effort,” said Belhaven art teacher Robin Moore, who said about 80 of the more than 400 handmade clay bowls that guests were able to take home Sunday as part of the fundraiser were made in her classroom. “It worked so well to involve our students, our families and of course, Mainland.”
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Volunteers from the Mainland Regional High School National Honor Society welcomed guests, ran the bake sale and helped dish out soup. Members of the Linwood PTO volunteered as well, and music teachers Nancy Robinson and Gene Cimis provided musical entertainment.
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Seaview art teacher Kim Petrella put the inaugural Empty Bowls event together five years ago to raise awareness that there is hunger in the local community, and to raise money to feed families struggling to put food on their table. This time around she joined up with the Linwood PTO and art teachers at Seaview, Belhaven Middle School and Mainland Regional High School.