Foodbank Hosts Popular Empty Bowls Event

1,000 Guests Show Support for this Critical Organization

Event Committee Member Peggy Shoemaker, Volunteer Bryant Shoemaker, Event founder and Chair Danyel Dean, and Event Committee Member Nancy Krug.
Photo Credit: Gail Arnold

On November 12, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County hosted its 20th annual Santa Barbara Empty Bowls event to raise awareness about hunger and food insecurity in our community and to raise funds for the Foodbank’s programs.

Nearly 1,000 guests came out to the Ben Page Youth Center, where for $30, guests got to choose a handcrafted, ceramic bowl, have it filled with gourmet soup for lunch, enjoy the meal among friends, and take the bowl home afterwards. Foodbank CEO Erik Talkin shared how “we’re always delighted to see the hundreds of supporters who join us to ‘fill the bowl,’ and raise critical funds to support the Foodbank."

The beautiful, handcrafted bowls were all donated by area artists and art students. Gourmet soups were provided by more than 20 area restaurants, and served with a smile by major Foodbank supporters. Donning aprons and ladling up soup were Susan Bridges, Janet Garufis, George Leis, Maryan Schall, Allan Ghitterman, Susan Rose, Philip Wyatt, and many others. Another group of volunteers sliced and served hearty, wholesome breads. After enjoying their lunch, guests could shop at a ceramic marketplace and peruse silent auction items. Right next door, the Foodbank offered interesting, guided tours of its south county warehouse.

Empty Bowls Santa Barbara was founded 20 years ago by Danyel Dean, who returns each year to chair this monumental event. According to Dean, “Empty Bowls has created a rippling awareness of the many ways the Foodbank works to alleviate hunger.”

Empty Bowls events are held across the country. Dean was motivated to start one here by the hunger she learned existed right in our own community. Her resume was well suited to the task, she had owned a bakery and restaurant for 15 years and had been a potter and been teaching ceramics for even longer than that. She assembled a dedicated committee, many of whom have stayed with her over the 20 years. Thanks to generous volunteers, donors, and sponsors, over the past 20 years, the event has raised about $2 million.

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County seeks to eliminate hunger and food insecurity by providing healthy food and by imparting knowledge of good nutrition. The Foodbank provides nourishment and education through its award-winning programs and a network of 300 nonprofit partners. In Santa Barbara County, one in four individuals receives food support from the Foodbank, and 38% of those served are children. Last year, the Foodbank distributed 10 million pounds of food, half of which was fresh produce.

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