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Food banks annual Empty Bowl lunch to help feed Georgia residents in need
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Empty Bowl lunch

When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday

Where: First Baptist Church’s Banquet Hall, 751 Green St., Gainesville

Cost: $25 minimum

Contact: 770-534-4111,,

One in 5 Georgians are food-insecure, a statistic the Georgia Mountain Food Bank hopes to improve.

The food bank will hold its annual Empty Bowl lunch, a community fundraiser to address hunger, health and quality of life, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at First Baptist Church on Green Street in Gainesville.

The lunch will include a soup and salad menu prepared by Master Chef Derin Moore from Performance Food Group in Oakwood and remarks from Georgia’s First Lady Sandra Deal, according to Katie Dubnik, Georgia Mountain Food Bank board president.

“Hunger organizations all over the world do the empty bowl concept,” said Kay Blackstock, executive director of the food bank. “Everyone does it a little different way, but the idea is you buy a ticket for the lunch and you’re given a hand-painted bowl as a reminder of the empty bowls that are in our community.”

Blackstock said the event includes annual awards for individual and corporate volunteers. This year’s will include the inaugural awarding of the Mike Banks Reflections of the Heart Award, in memory of the former board member and philanthropist. The award, given to an individual whose contributions to the food bank reflect “the heart of a giver,” will become an annual part of the Empty Bowl lunch.

“I’m very happy Mike will be honored every year like this,” Blackstock said. “It’s called the Reflections of the Heart Award because what’s in your heart is reflected in the way you serve and in your life. The criteria for this person is that their love and compassion and belief that no one should go hungry is reflected in the way they have supported the food bank.”

Tickets are a minimum donation of $25 each. Blackstock said attendees can take home one from hundreds of hand-painted pottery bowls donated by members of the community and local artists.

A live auction with bowls painted by celebrities, including members of the Zac Brown Band, Gov. Nathan Deal and wife Sandra, and Atlanta Falcons players also will take place. A silent auction with various donated items and additional pieces of pottery will be held throughout the event.

Blackstock said last year’s event raised approximately $20,000, but she hopes to double that this year.

“It’s shaping up to be the biggest one we’ve ever had,” Blackstock said. “This is our only fundraiser so we need to make it big, because it supports all of the programs of the food bank.”

For more information about the event, call 770-534-4111 or email Blackstock at

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