A rainy day provided the perfect setting Wednesday for soup-seeking attendees at the Lompoc Empty Bowls event.
The 13th annual benefit for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County drew hundreds of people to the Dick DeWees Community & Senior Center on West Ocean Avenue.
Assorted restaurants and other organizations provided gourmet soups served in hand-painted bowls, with bread and water making up the remainder of the simple meal.
Volunteers, including several airmen from Vandenberg Air Force Base, ladled various soups, such as curried butternut squash, clam chowder, albondigas, chicken vegetable and black bean.
Attendees left with their bowls, which served as a reminder of the meal’s main mission: ensuring those in the Lompoc Valley get wholesome and healthy food.
“This is a very popular event in the community,” said Foodbank CEO Erik Talkin, adding that he saw several people walking to the event. “I think everyone who’s anybody is here today.”
Raffle drawings and a silent auction also were held with assorted items donated from the local community up for grabs.
Empty Bowls helps highlight the Foodbank’s role in Lompoc, where the organization provides nutritious meals to one out three people in the community, Talkin said.
In the past two years, the Foodbank has boosted by 25 percent the food delivered in Lompoc.
“This event provides funds to make that possible,” Talkin said.
From July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016, the Foodbank distributed 1.3 million meals worth of food to 18,152 unduplicated individuals in the Lompoc community through 28 programs run by nonprofit and faith-based partners, in addition to direct-to-client programs.
“One dollar provides eight meals, just think of that,” said Lompoc Foursquare Church Pastor Bernie Federmann, who served as event announcer while encouraging people to buy raffle tickets and bid on the silent auction.
“Just bid high,” Federmann urged the crowd as the time ran out.
Empty Bowls events also are held each fall in Santa Maria — Oct. 25 this year — and Santa Barbara — Nov. 12 this year.
“It’s a great way of reminding people about the work of the Foodbank.” Talkin said.