28th Annual Empty Bowl Fundraiser held in Columbus Sunday

“It’s a chance to get some lunch after church and support a good cause,” says Frank Sheppard, President and CEO of Feeding the Valley Food Bank.
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 2:33 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Sunday afternoon, hundreds of locals not only had the chance to support Columbus Parks and Recreation’s annual Empty Bowl Fundraiser benefitting Feeding the Valley Food Bank, but they also left the event with full stomachs.

“It was absolutely delicious I had the minestrone soup and the beef vegetable soup and all the desert I could fit on this plate,” says Columbus resident Sarah Basch. “I got this cute little lavender bowl.”

“Goodness gracious, we have so many of the bowls and sculptures that they make for this event that we have to build a new house,” says Columbus resident, Neil Block.

Basch and Block are just two of hundreds of people who left Psalmond Road Recreation Center in Columbus full of soup and with a new hand-crafted bowl Sunday.

It was for the 28th annual Empty Bowl fundraiser where hundreds of volunteers from Columbus Parks and Recreation provide 4 hours of endless soup.

“It’s an opportunity for folks to come in, they purchase a bowl, a nice hand crafted bowl and fill it with soup and deserts and other good items, says Frank Sheppard, President and CEO of Feeding the Valley Food Bank. “It’s a chance to get some lunch after church and support a good cause.”

The good cause is supporting Feeding the Valley’s Kids Cafe which provides more than half a million meals a year for children across Muscogee and Russell counties.

“In the Columbus area, there 35,000 chronically hungry kids day in and day out, and that number’s actually gone up during the pandemic, so we have a lot of work to do here,” says Sheppard. “There’s 115,000 chronically hungry people in our coverage area all together, so we’re thankful for events like this to help support our programs to help feed children.”

There were tons of bowls to chose from. They were painted and created all year through Columbus Parks and Recreation cultural art programs. Volunteer Makail Albritton was back for his fifth year as a volunteer for the fundraiser and sculptor of the bowls.

“It went to me going from I couldn’t do it all, I sucked at it to being really good at it; to then seeing not only my work is good but people want it and not only do people want it, I can help the community with it,” says Albritton.

One bowl priced at $15 is equivalent to 90 meals for a child. The bowl is more than a bowl, it’s a promise to strive to end hunger.

“To know that by doing this one event, which we work on all year, but the one day event goes to provide so many meals for children that otherwise might go hungry or might not have food is just a really great feeling to know we’re able to support the community in that way,” says Holli Browder, Director of Columbus Parks and Recreation.

This is the first Empty Bowl fundraiser since the beginning of the pandemic and volunteers, sponsors, community partners, and soup lovers were excited to be back.