Empty Bowls fundraiser continues to feed Mississippians while highlighting culinary community

OXFORD — 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 15 years. 

This year’s Empty Bowls will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Oxford Conference Center.

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

Some of the soups available will include Mississippi black bean and chorizo chili from McEwen’s, Chicken Florentine from Proud Larry’s; Minestrone from Grit; broccoli and cheese from Oby’s; shrimp etouffee from Boure’, jambalaya and loaded potato soup from Taylor Grocery; vegetable soup from the Oxford School District, and gumbo from Rafters.

For $20, guests will receive water, bread and their choice of soup in a specially crafted ceramic bowl.

Organizer Barbara Smith said Ole Miss Mud Daubers make most of the bowls; however local artist Ron Dale also donates about 100 bowls each year.

Last year the event has raised up to $14,000 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.

ScottCaradinefrom Proud Larry’s is in charge of the kitchen crew.

In 2017, The Pantry served 5,910 households and provided help to 13,662 people, according to Smith.

The soup can be purchased and eaten at the conference center 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,” said organizer June 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 and operational costs throughout the year like electricity.

Empty Bowls was started in 1990 as an art class project at a Michigan high school to raise funds for a food drive. Students made ceramic bowls, served a meal of soup and bread, and invited guests to keep the bowl as a reminder of hunger in the world. The event soon became a national event to help local food pantries.

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