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Santa Maria Empty Bowls Boosts Foodbank Funding

North County fundraiser one of two planned for fall, with Santa Barbara Empty Bowls set for Sunday

Santa Barbara County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino serves soup with a flourish during Wednesday’s Empty Bowls event at the Santa Maria Fairpark.
Santa Barbara County Supervisor Steve Lavagnino serves soup with a flourish during Wednesday’s Empty Bowls event at the Santa Maria Fairpark. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A variety of soups poured into colorful ceramic bowls by local celebrities will help the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County continue to battle hunger and malnutrition.

Hundreds of people turned out Wednesday for the 14th annual Empty Bowls at the Santa Maria Fairpark.

For $25, attendees received a ceramic bowl, many handcrafted by artists and students, and a variety of soups made by 20 local restaurants. 

Offerings included garden vegetable with pesto, ham and navy bean, potato leek, tomato bisque and more, ladled into bowls by television anchors, elected officials and restaurant representatives.

Guests went home with their colorful soup bowls, which Foodbank officials said will serve as a reminder of the ongoing hunger problem and empty bowls needing to be filled every day in the community. 

“This is just a great opportunity for the Santa Maria community to help meet the Santa Maria need,” said Judith Monte, North County development manager for the Foodbank.

The Santa Maria event was one of two scheduled within four days to help the Foodbank.

Empty Bowls Santa Barbara is set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, at the Ben Page Youth Center, 4540 Hollister Ave., with several seating options.

Tickets, $30 each, are available here.

The Santa Maria event has grown so popular organizers now sell tickets for two separate seatings, with the first nearly sold out a week before.

Pre-sale tickets were higher than last year, Monte said. Raffle drawing tickets also proved popular. 

She credited the growth with the Foodbank’s relationships developed with businesses and corporations.

“We have new soup vendors and new sponsors so we’re looking for a very successful event,” Monte said, adding they hoped to raise approximately $45,000. 

“Bottom line, we’re serving one out of four people countywide,” Monte said. “That’s a lot of people.”

In the Santa Maria Valley alone, the Foodbank aided 57,000 people last year, officials said.

Agencies such as Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, Good Samaritan and scores of other groups with food programs in the Santa Maria Valley are among recipients of the Foodbank’s resources.

While the organization receives donated food, funding also is needed to handle and transport it to distribution locations. The Foodbank is assisted by more than 300 distribution programs helping get food into the residents’ hands.

“We’re able to turn every dollar donated into eight meals worth of food,” she said. “But as you can imagine with one out four people that’s a lot of meals we have to provide.”

In addition to the benefits each fall in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara, the organization also hosts Empty Bowls each March in Lompoc. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino is served a bowl of soup by KSBY news personality Jeanette Tompeter Wednesday during the Empty Bowls event at the Santa Maria Fairpark. Click to view larger
Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino is served a bowl of soup by KSBY news personality Jeanette Tompeter Wednesday during the Empty Bowls event at the Santa Maria Fairpark. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)
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