What: Benefiting the Georgia Mountain Food Bank
When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22
Where: First Baptist Church of Gainesville’s banquet hall, 751 Green St. NW
How much: Minimum $25 donation
More info: Kay Blackstock, 770-534-4111
For many Georgia families, empty bowls are a constant concern.
Nearly 47,000 people in Northeast Georgia are food insecure, meaning they aren’t sure where they can get their next meal, according to the Georgia Mountain Food Bank.
The Annual Empty Bowl Lunch, benefiting the food bank, will address this problem. The drop-in event will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday in First Baptist Church of Gainesville’s banquet hall.
Kay Blackstock, executive director of the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, said the event couldn’t come at a better time.
“It takes tractor-trailer loads of food for us to operate, to supply food to the food pantries,” Blackstock said. “... It’s somewhere around 250,000 to 300,000 pounds a month that we’re rolling in and out. We had all the summer, and now we’re well into fall, and we’re not seeing that food coming in. It causes a strain on us, which in turn causes a strain on the partner agencies and, in the end, on the amount of food we get to the people who need it.”
The event is designed to raise funds and awareness of the need to “fill bowls,” according to the food bank. Each person who attends will take home a hand-painted bowl donated by local artists and community members.
There will also be a live auction for bowls painted by celebrities including former Governor and U.S. Sen. Zell Miller and Shirley Miller, multiple Atlanta Falcons players, former University of Georgia football players, Sen. Butch Miller, UGA President Jere Morehead, Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson, Gainesville First United Methodist Church senior pastor Terry Walton and more.
The event’s presentations will begin at 11:45 a.m. and will include the auction, awards and an address by Bill Bolling, founder of Atlanta Community Food Bank.
The lunch will include an assortment of soups, sides and desserts donated by Performance Food Service. Soup will be ladled by employees and volunteers of Georgia Mountain Food Bank’s partner agencies in Dawson, Lumpkin, Forsyth, Union and Hall counties.
Tickets are available for a minimum $25 donation, and tables are available for $500 donations each.
For every $25, the food bank can provide 125 meals.
“We are expecting and hoping for a big crowd,” Blackstock said. “It gives me chillbumps just thinking about it. Every year it grows and grows and grows.”
The Empty Bowl Lunch is both a fundraiser and an education tool, according to Blackstock. It is scheduled in September every year because it is Hunger Action Month, a time when all food banks nationally engage with their community.
The event is the food bank’s one big fundraiser every year, and it depends on Empty Bowl to keep the facilities open and trucks on the road.
“I have so many people say to me all the time, ‘Well, the economy’s getting better, are you seeing a decrease?’” Blackstock said. “We’re not. These are real lives, real families and this is as real as it gets. So we’re grateful for Empty Bowl.”