Empty Bowl fundraisers feeds hungry
Serenity Struble of McCandless was having a good time Sunday afternoon, one of a few hundred people who patronized the Empty Bowl luncheon that benefits the needy and hungry served by the Westmoreland County Food Bank.
“It is really a great thing for a great cause … ’cause it is money for the food bank. I like a fundraiser that is fun,” said the nine-year-old Struble, who was joined at Hempfield Area High School by her father, Chris Struble, younger sister, Anastasia, and her paternal grandmother, Sher Allison of Greensburg.
The event, part of a nationwide initiative, is designed to raise awareness about the problem of hunger in local communities, as well as throughout the country. The Empty Bowl luncheon is run by all volunteers, making it a “true” fundraiser, since those working the event are not paid, said Karen Piper of Scott Township, who founded it 11 years ago.
A light snow that began shortly after noon did not deter crowds of people who lined up to get into the Empty Bowl luncheon, Piper said.
“The turnout has been fantastic, despite the weather,” she noted.
For the price of a $15 ticket, those attending got to pick a hand-made bowl created for this event by local artists, high school students and community members, plus soup and bread donated by about 36 local restaurants and bakeries, Piper said. They had their choice from a variety of soups — pasta fagioli, tomato soup, French onion, lentil soup and callaloo, a coconut-based vegetarian soup.
The Empty Bowl fundraiser has been such a success that it has raised $145,000 since it began, Piper said. A tally of Sunday’s donations should be complete on Monday, Piper said.
In addition to the food, hundreds of bowls were spread across tables and were being selected by those who came to support the food bank.
“People got here early, and they really picked them,” said Thamar Perry of Rostraver, one of the food bank volunteers.
Tim Piper of Mt. Lebanon, son of Karen Piper, and Crystal Szogi, co-chairpersons of the Empty Bowl Committee, said they probably will have a few hundred bowls to box and take to the food bank because of the overwhelming response from teachers and students, artists and community members who answered the call to make the bowls.
Amy Balko, a Greater Latrobe Senior High School art teacher, did a great job in getting teachers from schools throughout the county to get their students to make bowls, Piper said.
The leftover food from the Empty Bowl luncheon would be turned over to the food bank for serving fresh at soup kitchens and the rest would be frozen for distribution at food pantries, Piper said.
“We don’t waste anything,” Piper said.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .