May 26, 2018
 
The Open Door's Annual Dinner Raises $111K, Setting a Record

May 11, 2018 — The Open Door, a Gloucester nonprofit that seeks to alleviate hunger by operating a food pantry and providing related services, this week announced that its annual Empty Bowl Dinner, held in connection with its 40th anniversary, raised a record $111,402.

Funds raised through The Empty Bowl Dinner on May 3 will support the organization's Summer Meals for Kids and Mobile Market programs.

"Access to good food is the first line of defense for healthy communities especially during the summer months when kids are not in school," said Julie LaFontaine, executive director of The Open Door. "Proceeds raised from the Empty Bowl Dinner move us outside the walls of our pantry to go deeper into our communities with solutions that connect people to good food."

The organization said it made a special push this year to increase revenues raised from corporate and private sponsorship along with its silent auction, and tickets priced at $20 for adults and $15 for children in order to maximize attendance. It attracted 900 people.

It also created an infographic to bolster support for the 40th anniversary celebration, which, among other elements, illustrated what a donation of $40, $120, or $400 would enable The Open Door to provide.

The Empty Bowl Dinner is Open Door's largest public fundraiser, supporting more than 50% of its summer program operating expenses.

This year, crowds lined up outside Cruiseport Gloucester, where the event was held. More than 30 local restaurants donated soup, local bakers provided rolls and cookies, and other vendors donated flowers and supplies.

Local artists and potters along with hundreds of volunteers from the community, created and donated more than 1,000 bowls so that each diner could take home a bowl to remind them that somewhere in the community, someone’s bowl is empty.

The first Empty Bowl fundraiser in 2001 raised $2,500 and attracted 250 attendees.

Founded in 1978, The Open Door is a grassroots hunger-relief organization serving Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester, Essex, Ipswich, Rowley, Topsfield, Boxford, Hamilton, and Wenham.

Using a prevention-based strategy grounded in community, The Open Door provides wraparound nutrition services through more than 14 different programs from food pantries, to meal programs, SNAP application assistance, and community nutrition education.

Last year, programs of The Open Door assisted 7,747 low and limited-income people, including one out of every six Gloucester residents and provided 1,837,094 million pounds of food, equal to 1,531,078 million meals.

Last summer, it served 3,303 lunches and suppers to children ages 18 and under at 10 sites.

The Open Door increased food distribution 31% in 2017, while the number of households served increased 17%.

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