The line starts forming an hour before the doors open. That’s when the search for the “best” bowls begins. Preference, of course, is relative. One person might grab a bowl donated by Throwing Mud Gallery, and another person chooses a bowl made and donated by a local artist at the Washington State Fair. Once selections are made and paid for, with all proceeds going to Emergency Food Network (EFN), attendees make their way to eat free soup, donated and served by Chambers Bay Grill, Indo Asian Street Eatery, Infinite Soups, Pacific Grill, Spring Lake Café, Stanley and Seaforts, The Swiss, and X-Group Restaurants.
It’s an annual tradition enjoyed by more than 500 people each year, with almost 1,500 bowls purchased for the home or for holiday gifts, and more than 700 bowls of soup consumed over two and a half hours. This year’s event was held on Saturday, Nov. 19 at Charles Wright Academy, and the event brought in a whopping $31,772 from generous people.
Empty Bowls began as a grassroots project for local artists and community members to work together to assist people suffering from hunger. The event now spans to 12 countries and many states across the U.S., generating millions of dollars for various hunger relief agencies. For the last 17 years, EFN has hosted Empty Bowls in Pierce County, highlighting works from talented veteran artists and new local talent. In 2015, EFN raised over $35,000 from Empty Bowls. This is the equivalent of 203,225 meals for food-insecure Pierce County residents.
In 2015, EFN distributed 16 million pounds of food to more than 70 area food banks, meal sites, and shelters. EFN made it possible for our partner food programs to accommodate 1.4 million total visits in Pierce County. To assist in meeting this need, EFN relies on fundraising events like Empty Bowls.
The continued success of Empty Bowls is due to the overwhelming community support from artists who donate the bowls, volunteers who set up and help run the event, local restaurants that donate soup, and the 500-plus community members who attend the event.