The Empty Bowls 2018 fundraiser benefiting local food banks raised an estimated $18,000 to $19,000 — among the highest totals ever, according to planning committee members. They said part of that success was due to an added number of sponsors.

The Saturday gathering featuring a supper of donated homemade soups, chili, breads and desserts attracted about 650 diners at Central Middle School, said Beth Parkhurst, among the organizers. More than 100 volunteers contributed to the effort.

Planners came close to their goal of hitting the $20,000 mark to mark the fundraiser’s 20th anniversary.

“We’re definitely excited about that total,” Parkhurst said.

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The event has now raised more than $200,000 to fight local food insecurity, Parkhurst said.

Leftover soups from Saturday were donated to the Horizon House homeless shelter.

“We extend a big thank-you to the community for their support,” Parkhurst said, including Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. for its use of Central for the gathering.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.