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Donate a bowl, help the hungry
Annual luncheon raises money for Georgia Mountain Food Bank
Nobi Roberts, 4, paints a ceramic bowl that will help raise money for the Georgia Mountain Food Bank at its annual Empty Bowl Lunch, set for Sept. 16. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Empty Bowl Lunch

What: Georgia Mountain Food Bank fundraiser

When: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 16

Where: First Baptist Church, 751 Green St., Gainesville

How much: $25

Contact: 770-967-0075; Georgia Mountain Food Bank

Paint a bowl to donate

How much: $11

Contact: 770-536-1900

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday, Interactive Neighborhood for Kids Inc., 99 Chestnut St., Gainesville

4-7 p.m. Tuesday, McDonald's, 965 Dawsonville Highway, Gainesville

4-7 p.m. Thursday, McDonald's, 2501 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville

What should be as simple as going to the refrigerator and picking something out can be a bit more complex for some.
Every day, thousands of Americans wonder where their next meal will come from.

To draw attention to that fact, the Georgia Mountain Food Bank is gearing up for the fourth annual Empty Bowl Lunch.

"It's a drop-in lunch from 11 (a.m.) until 2, so we catch everyone's lunch hour," said Kay Blackstock, executive director of the food bank. "We'll have sandwiches that were made by church volunteers, two different types of soup from 2 Dog Restaurant and salad."

For $25, attendees will get more than a simple lunch; they'll also get a keepsake, a hand-painted bowl.

"What a unique way to remember this issue all year long," Blackstock said.

The bowls are painted by members of the community and donated to the cause. This is the last week for interested parties to drop in at Interactive Neighborhood for Kids Inc., 999 Chestnut St. in Gainesville, to paint and donate a bowl.

"All people have to do is come in, let us know they want to paint something for the luncheon and we'll give them 10 percent off their item," said Phil Dennis, INK assistant director. "They'll paint their item like they normally would and leave it here. We'll take care of the rest."

The average price of the bowls for the luncheon is $11, but Dennis says there are larger pieces for those interested.

"It doesn't cost a lot of money on the artist's part, but it can generate double that for the food bank," Dennis said.

In case potential donors can't make it in to INK to paint a bowl, the center has partnered with two local McDonald's restaurants to offer a mobile painting site.

"The idea here is that parents can bring their kids out for a meal and while they're here, they can paint a bowl to donate," Dennis said.

The ultimate goal is for the community to donate 400 bowls for lunch attendees, which would raise $10,000 for the food bank - a record.

"Each year, the lunch just gets bigger and bigger. We really need the financial support (of the lunch) for the food bank operations," Blackstock said. "It allows us to continue doing the kinds of outreach and distribution that we've done in the past."

In 2009 alone, the food bank distributed more than 650,000 pounds of food to organizations in Hall, Dawson, Forsyth, Lumpkin and Union counties.

The fundraiser also will help the food bank finance moving into a larger home, one that will allow the bank to store more temperature sensitive items.

In addition to encouraging community members to paint a bowl for the luncheon, the food bank also is accepting larger pottery donations to be included in the event's silent auction.

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