Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 12:47 am | Fair 47º


Foodbank Raises $49K With Santa Maria Empty Bowl Fundraiser

Second Foodbank of Santa Barbara County benefit planned for Nov. 11 in Santa Barbara


A larger-than-expected crowd consumed hundreds of bowls of food, including the popular offerings of tri-tip chili and chicken pot pie soup, at the 17th annual Santa Maria Empty Bowls on Wednesday.

The event at the Santa Maria Fairpark marked the first of two Empty Bowls benefits in less than three weeks for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, with the next one planned for Nov. 11 in Santa Barbara. 

For a $25 ticket, attendees at the Santa Maria event enjoyed gourmet soups in colorful hand-crafted ceramic bowls with offerings from various popular local and chain restaurants. 

The basic meal helps remind residents their neighbors may experience hunger, and proceeds from the fundraiser help supply food to people in need within the community, organizers said.

“It’s a great opportunity to turn meals into meals,” said Erik Talkin, chief executive officer of the Foodbank. “People are eating and it generates other meals for other people. We’re just thrilled with the response of people in the community coming out,” he added.

While organizers expected approximately 550 people, the attendance numbered 785 with roughly $49,000 raised, Foodbank representative Judith Smith-Meyer said late Wednesday afternoon.

Roughly 47 percent of the Foodbank's distributions occur in the Santa Maria Valley, Talkin said. 

“Hunger is always a very local issue. People want to help their friends and neighbors in their community and so empty bowls reflects that,” Talkin said. “All the money raised here will be spent in the Santa Maria Valley. Recently, more and more the Foodbank’s services countywide are focused in this area.”

The lunch offerings Wednesday came from assorted restaurants such as Moxie Cafe, Cubanissimo Cafe and Food Truck, Blast 825 Brewery (formerly Rooney’s), VTC Enterprises, Olive Garden and Allan Hancock College Culinary Arts Program. 

people serve soup Click to view larger
Chrystal Trenado and Aqui Trenado from Cubanissmio, which operates both a food truck and an Orcutt cafe, serve soup during Empty Bowls on Wednesday. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Celebrity soup ladlers included assorted community leaders such as fire Chief Leonard Champion and Mayor Alice Patino.

Service clubs and corporations provided people, united by the fight to end hunger, to help with various chores at the fundraiser.

​“The volunteer effort has been huge,” Smith-Myer said.

The Santa Barbara Empty Bowls on Nov. 11 includes three seatings — 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. Tickets, at $30 for regular admission or $100 for special seating, are available by clicking here.

Parking at the Ben Page Youth Center also is available online for $5. Free parking is available at San Marcos High School with a free shuttle service taking attendees to the Empty Bowls venue.

people serve soup Click to view larger
Jay Hardy from Moxie Cafe serves soups to guests at Santa Maria Empty Bowls Wednesday.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The two events have different flavors with Santa Maria’s attracting more business people and individuals while Santa Barbara’s draws families, in part because it occurs on Sunday, Talkin said.

Santa Barbara’s event is the largest of three held in Santa Barbara County. In addition to Santa Maria, Lompoc holds an Empty Bowls event each March. Together, the trio raise more than $200,000 for the Foodbank.

The two fall Empty Bowls events come as the Foodbank works to recover from a crash that totaled a key delivery truck. A separate fundraiser is under way help get the money for replacing the vehicle, with a donor offering to match up contributions up to $50,000.

“That really affects our ability to both pick up food and deliver food to programs and individuals,” Talkin said. 

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.

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