LEWISTON -The number of people going to the Trinity Jubilee Center community soup kitchen for meals and for other assistance is growing. To meet the needs, the center is launching a fund-raising event, the Empty Bowls Project, from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, April 24, at the Unitarian-Universalist Church, 169 Pleasant St., Auburn.

The supper follows a 10-year-old nationwide model of partnership between soup kitchens and ceramic artisans of all ages and experience.

For $15, those attending will purchase a handmade ceramic bowl, donated by local artisans, and will be served from a variety of soups donated by local restaurants. Breads and desserts will complete the meal. Families will be given a discount.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that 35.9 million people of all ages were living in poverty in the U.S. in 2003, up 1.3 million from the year before. One in every eight people struggles to get enough to eat and to sustain adequate shelter.

Their struggles are documented in “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America” by Barbara Ehrenreich, which is this year’s book for “One Book/One Community, L-A Reads!”

And with those struggles come other needs for clothing, diapers, infant formula, personal hygiene supplies, medications and access to health care. As state and federal program funds are diminishing for persons and families challenged by poverty, unemployment, underemployment and disability, the need for emergency food and shelter will grow.

Since 1989, Trinity Jubilee Center, located at 247 Bates St., has been providing a broad program of outreach to persons living in poverty in the Lewiston-Auburn community.

The center provides free meals four days a week, along with assistance to parents and children, advocacy with social service agencies and housing authorities, linkage to health care and a place to go in off the street to get warm.

Last year the center served 32,000 free meals. It is supported with donations from the United Way of Androscoggin County, area churches, businesses, schools and colleges, as well as individuals, and by its linkage with city, county, and school community service programs.

All proceeds from the Empty Bowl Supper will go to the Jubilee Center. Anyone wishing to donate a handmade ceramic bowl or needing more information may contact the center at 782-5700 or [email protected]

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