Community Supports Foodbank at Popular Empty Bowls Event

Community Supports Foodbank at Popular Empty Bowls Event title=
Community Supports Foodbank at Popular Empty Bowls Event
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Empty Bowls founder and Chair Danyel Dean and Foodbank CEO Erik Talkin

By Gail Arnold

On November 11, the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County hosted its 21st annual Santa Barbara Empty Bowls event to raise awareness about hunger and food insecurity in our community and to raise funds for the Foodbank’s programs. The event netted more than $120,000, bringing the total raised since inception to about $2 million.

More than 1,000 guests came out to the Ben Page Youth Center, where for $30, they got to select a handcrafted ceramic bowl, have it filled with gourmet soup for lunch, enjoy the meal among friends and fellow supporters, and take the bowl home.

Handcrafted bowls

The beautiful, handcrafted bowls were donated by area artists and art students. Gourmet soups were provided by more than 20 area restaurants, and served by Foodbank supporters. Among those donning aprons and ladling up soup were Montecito Bank & Trust (MB&T) Chair and CEO Janet Garufis, MB&T President George Leis, Deckers Brands President and CEO David Powers, Jeannine’s Bakery COO Alison Hardey, Frank Schipper Construction President Paul Wieckowski, and Wyatt Technology CEO Philip Wyatt.

Sponsor Montecito Bank & Trust President George Leis and Sponsor Cyndee Howard 
Sponsor Wyatt Technology CEO Philip Wyatt and Sponsor Lesley Cunningham

Another group of volunteers sliced and served hearty, wholesome breads, including Police Officer Keld Hove, who thoughtfully offered pairing suggestions suitable for each guest’s soup before slicing into a loaf from his Hove’s Loaves or Costco.

Committee Member (for 21 years) Merrillee Ford and S.B. Police Officer and Hove's Loaves owner Keld Hove.

After enjoying their lunch, guests could shop at a ceramic marketplace and peruse silent auction items. Next door at the Foodbank’s south county warehouse, the Foodbank offered guided tours and Village Cheese & Wine Store President Patrick Braid served his coffee alongside cookies from Belmond El Encanto.

Village Cheese & Wine Store (VCWS) President Patrick Braid and VCWS Creative Director Taylor Roberts

Empty Bowls Santa Barbara was founded by Danyel Dean, who returns each year to chair this heartwarming event. According to Dean, "It’s a fun and affordable way to support the Foodbank. All who attend leave with a unique handcrafted bowl and the great feeling that comes from being part of such a wonderful, caring community and knowing you contributed to the fight to end hunger.” Dean noted how the event generates awareness about the Foodbank that ripples through the community as the 1,000 guests and 150 volunteers spread the word about the important work of the Foodbank. Dean’s dedicated committee of 11 members, about half of whom have been with her all 21 years, works year-round making the bowls and otherwise preparing for the event.

Committee Members (for 21 years) Lizzie Olson and Nancy Krug
Board Secretary Carol Olson and Board Chair Vibeke Weiland

The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County plays a critical role, serving one in four people in our county, 39 percent of whom are children. It seeks to eliminate hunger and food insecurity by providing healthy food and nutrition education through its partnership with more than 300 agencies. Last year, the Foodbank distributed 10 million pounds of food, half of which was fresh produce.

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Guests enjoy the event.
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