Success Stories: Chapter 14 – Talbot County Empty Bowls
Talbot County Empty Bowls started its charitable giving program in 2008. It is an independent, volunteer, grassroots organization with the twin mission to strive to eliminate hunger insecurity one bowl at a time and to raise awareness in the community of this serious and fundamental issue in Talbot County, Maryland.
On the last Sunday in February, Empty Bowls holds a fundraiser and for $20 per person approximately 375 participants receive soup, bread and cookies. They also take home the “empty bowl” to remind them of those for whom the next meal is not a given. Painters at a local pottery business called KilnBorn Creations, the Academy of the Arts studio, and high school students donate bowls for the event.
Talbot County Empty Bowls continues its fundraising efforts during the year to support the food pantries. They sell about 500 bowls at the Easton Farmers Market and a local quilting organization, Bayside Quilting, donates “cozies” to sell to hold hot soup at home.
All of the proceeds from these activities are donated to ten Talbot County food pantries. These organizations include Asbury Methodist Church, CarePacks of Talbot County, Neighborhood Service Center, The Presbyterian Church of Easton, St. Michael’s Food Pantry, St. Vincent DePaul Society of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Scott’s United Methodist Church, Tilghman Food Pantry and Union United Methodist Church.
Over the past 13 years, TCEB has distributed almost $200,000 to food organizations to fight hunger insecurity and ensure that those in need have access to food.
Both the universal nature of hunger issues and the elegant simplicity of the Empty Bowls’ symbolism provide the foundation for the organization’s success. Using an Empty Bowl daily is a powerful reminder. Empty Bowls has held eleven Sunday night soup suppers and have steadily expanded their sources of revenue. Co-Founder Susan DuPont says, “The event is no longer the primary fund raiser but it is a priceless time to raise awareness.”
Many other Talbot County residents are very of appreciative of the philosophy and efforts of Talbot County Empty Bowls:
“I have participated in the Empty Bowls event from two perspectives each year for the past 5 years” said Deb Keller, Director of Human Resources at Qlarant. “I am a member of the Soroptimists of Talbot County and each year our Club paints bowls that we donate to the event and each year I attend the dinner event itself. The soups are always delicious and the dinner serves to bring ongoing awareness to the hunger problem in our community. It feels good to participate in an event that so many local people benefit from.”
“Empty Bowls provides a solid commitment to feeding the hungry in Talbot County. The annual dinner is a great way to support this worthy cause – warm fellowship, delicious soups and beautiful bowls!” said Carolyn Lane, a native of Talbot County.
“Part of the mission of Empty Bowls is to raise awareness and the need is great.” –Marilyn Neal, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Service Center located in Easton, the county seat of Talbot.
Individuals as well as operators of the food pantries are very appreciative of the support given to their food programs by Empty Bowls. The operator of the Tilghman Food Pantry said, “We are too small to receive grant money, but then an angel in the form of Empty Bowls appeared. We were approved for help, and now we can afford a lot more than in the past from the helping hands of the good people in the county.”
The Qlarant Foundation donated $5,000 to Talbot County Empty Bowls. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to support an organization that does so much good for the community,” said Molly Burgoyne-Brian, Chair, Qlarant Foundation Board of Directors.