‘Empty Bowls’ fundraiser to help families in need

If soup’s on at your house, then Empty Bowls organizers could use a spoonful of help.

The 18th annual event set for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at Central Middle School could use a few more cooks for soups and chili, and also for breads and desserts, said Sarah Grey, longtime steering committee member.

“If you can cook for your family, you can cook for Empty Bowls,” said Grey, who usually makes a vegetarian bean soup and Italian-style soup for the event.

Empty Bowls raises money for Love Chapel, Community Center of Hope food bank and Turning Point Domestic Violence Services.

The fundraiser serving soup, chili, bread and desserts to about 700 people per year at $12 to $25 per adult (for a handmade, keepsake bowl) has generated $160,000 to feed the area’s hungry since it began, organizers said. Plus, the event regularly highlights entertainment.

This year’s musical act is Columbus native and Indianapolis electric violinist Cathy Morris, a popular act for years at such major events as the Indy Jazz Fest.

Elizabeth Kestler, executive director of Love Chapel, said the fundraiser remains important to her agency’s ministry that recently has expanded to feeding 1,200 families monthly. That makes Love Chapel the largest local outlet for feeding struggling families.

“It’s a great help to us — and especially at a time when our supply tends to run a little lower in the month of February,” Kestler said.

“Plus, the organizers do a great job of raising awareness about the issue (of hunger).”

Grey said some who attend Empty Bowls come for the food. Some come for the social gathering and entertainment. And some come to support the cause of helping others.

“I really think it’s all of that,” Grey said. “The wonderful thing about this event is that everybody comes together and works together. And of course, this cause is a great one.”

For the fundraiser, the Columbus Food Co-Op works with United Way of Bartholomew County, the Columbus Area Arts Council, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus, C4 Culinary Arts and Pride Alliance Columbus.

How you can help

What: 18th Annual Empty Bowls fundraiser, currently needing donated soups and chili.

Amount: Most people make a gallon or two.

Type: Whatever a cook is best at making.

Contact: Sarah Grey at 812-376-8102 or columbusemptybowls@gmail.com.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.