To mark the 25th anniversary of Empty Bowls, Grand Valley Catholic Outreach wanted to go bigger.
The annual Soup Kitchen fundraiser with ceramic bowls made by local artists and gourmet soup from area restaurants has become an event many in the valley look forward to each October.
“We brainstormed how we might do it, but when you have over 1,000 people and bowls of soup and social distancing … there was just no way we could do it,” said Beverly Lampley, director of development and communication for Catholic Outreach.
In addition, 2020 and COVID-19 rules haven't been so kind to area restaurants. The local artists who usually donate bowls haven't been throwing as much this year. Catholic Outreach didn't want Empty Bowls to burden them, Lampley said.
This year the fundraiser has become “Empty” Empty Bowls. Tickets are $25, and are a “reminder that people are hungry in our valley even though this year we can't have an event,” Lampley said.
The Soup Kitchen offers lunch six days a week, free to anyone who is hungry. Each year it serves an average of 67,000 meals, according to catholicoutreach.org.
Earlier this year, the Soup Kitchen's numbers increased a little, then decreased again, Lampley said. “We anticipate that when it gets cold again, they will increase again.”
Lampley has been pleased with the support “Empty” Empty Bowls has received so far. “It makes you feel good that everyone responds to the need and that's what just surprised me in a way,” she said.
As for the 25th anniversary celebration for Empty Bowls, that will happen in 2021 instead and area potters are already making bowls, Lampley said.
In the meantime, tickets for “Empty” Empty Bowls are available through Oct. 10 at Catholic Outreach's main office at 245 S. First St.
To learn about Catholic Outreach and the Soup Kitchen, go to catholicoutreach.org.