Empty Bowls event upcoming

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, February 11, 2016

The annual Empty Bowls event has been helping to put food in the bowls of the less fortunate in Lafayette County by providing fresh, homemade soup in hand-crafted ceramic bowls for the past 13 years.

This year’s Empty Bowls will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday at Oxford-University United Methodist Church.

About 21 restaurants and individuals are participating in this year’s event, providing the soup that ranges from the traditional chicken soup to hearty gumbos.

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Organizer Barbara Smith said it’s very easy to get local restaurants to participate.

“The girls on the committee just walk into the restaurants and sign them up with little problem,” Smith said. “This is such a giving community.”

The soups will be served in bowls created by the Ole Miss Mud Daubers ceramics club and other area artists.

“We have about 850 bowls so far,” said June Rosentreter, organizer. “The Mud Daubers are making about 600, they said, and one artist said he was bringing about 200 himself.”

For $20, a participant will receive the soup and bowl of their choice, water and bread.

In past years, the event has raised up to $15,000 for The Pantry — a nonprofit organization that began in 1982 to provide food on a weekly basis to any resident of Oxford or Lafayette County in need of assistance.

Scott Caradone from Proud Larry’s is in charge of the kitchen crew.

In 2015, The Pantry provided help to 12,257 people, according to Smith.

The soup can be purchased and eaten at the church or taken “to go.”

“We are encouraging participants to literally eat from their bowls, which, for us, is a reminder of the mission of our efforts,” Rosentreter said.

The funds from the event will help The Pantry purchase food to supplement what they get from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We buy food from the Memphis food bank,” Rosentreter said. “We also have to pay for our lights, and to keep it cool in the summer and warmer in the winter.”

Empty Bowls began in 1990 when a high school art teacher in Michigan conceived of the idea as a way for his students to raise money for a food drive.