Foodbank Rallies Community Support with Empty Bowls 2020

Source: Foodbank of Santa Barbara County

In lieu of the beloved community fundraisers held in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Lompoc each year, The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is building awareness about hunger and food insecurity throughout the community and raising funds to end hunger in Santa Barbara County with Empty Bowls 2020, a countywide virtual celebration November 14 through 23. 

Empty Bowls 2020 includes opportunities for everyone to participate. The celebration incorporates donations (which will be doubled by generous corporate, philanthropic and individual sponsors), support for local restaurants which usually donate soup to the live fundraising events, handcrafted artist bowls available as gifts with donations, and #EmptyBowls2020 an online celebration individuals can participate in by sharing favorite Empty Bowls memories on social media.
“Thousands of us across Santa Barbara County look forward to and enjoy the unique spirit of Empty Bowls in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Lompoc each year. It’s sad that we can’t be together to savor the undeniable love that permeates the in-person events,” noted Foodbank CEO Erik Talkin. 

“But we are happy to offer opportunities for everyone to participate in keeping the spirit strong under this year’s unusual circumstances, to support local people who are facing hunger and the restaurants that usually donate soup.” 

The celebration kicks off with Fill the Foodbank! Drive-thru Food Drive on Saturday, November 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Community members may drop off food in Santa Barbara at the Foodbank warehouse at 4554 Hollister Ave. (adjacent to the Ben Page Youth Center) and in Santa Maria at 1303 S. Bradley Ave. (in the Trader Joe’s parking lot). Most needed food items include nut butters, canned protein, canned tomato/pasta sauce, pasta, whole grain, low sugar cereals, rice and beans. Fresh or frozen turkeys or chickens can also be dropped off to help meet the Foodbank’s 2020 Turkey Drive goal of 4,000 birds to ensure everyone in the community facing hunger can have a wholesome holiday meal. 

Community members who usually attend Empty Bowls, and who are able, are encouraged to donate the price of their tickets this year. All donations will be doubled by generous community, corporate and philanthropic sponsors.

Santa Barbara Empty Bowls Founder and 23-year event committee chair Danyel Dean reflects on the origins of the nearly quarter-century long tradition and its relevance for today. “The idea is that  you take the bowl you got at the event and leave it empty on your Thanksgiving table,” Dean explained. 
“That reminds us that there are so many people in so many communities that are food insecure and need help. And that has not [ever] been more true than now.”

Dean and longtime committee member Merrillee Ford continue their tradition of creating handmade, completely unique, ceramic “Artist Bowls.” Fifty such bowls, representing many of Santa Barbara’s most notable local landmarks, are available as gifts with suggested donations of $1,000.

New to Empty Bowls this year, are 20 hand-lathed wooden bowls by local teen artist Parker Andelman.  For her mitzvah project this year, she set a goal to create one-of-a-kind bowls to donate to the Empty Bowls fundraiser.

“I am passionate about woodworking. I started woodworking when I was 11 when my Mom signed me up for a woodworking summer camp at Dos Pueblos High School led by Chris Mollkoy,” Andelman said. 
“I didn’t want to do the camp at first, but after the first day I was hooked! Later that year, I got a lathe and found a great mentor. Since then I’ve been woodworking in my backyard.  Most of the time, I create bowls by turning them on my lathe.”  

Andelman’s bowls are available as a gift with a suggested donation of $500.

Normally, Empty Bowls is only possible thanks to the generosity of chefs and restaurants throughout the county who donate gallons of gourmet soup, as varied as pozole verde, sweet pea soup with mint, butternut squash and bacon soup with sage, zuppa con lenticchie e salsicce, and pappa al pomodoro, vegan red lentil, tri-tip chili, corn chowder, clam chowder, and more.

This year, as economic impacts of the Covid-19 crisis hit small businesses hardest, the Foodbank encourages the community to patronize local restaurants that usually contribute soup, by ordering take-out, dining outdoors with physical distance, purchasing gift cards for use when the community safely reopens or imagining how to engage caterers for essential workers or other acceptable events under county guidelines.

The restaurants that have generously donated soup to past Empty Bowls events are listed below.

In Santa Barbara:

Beachside Bar-CaféBelmond El EncantoBenchmark EateryFour Seasons BiltmoreBluewater GrillBouchonCa’DarioFinch & ForkFood LiaisonFresco CaféHelena Avenue BakeryJane (Santa Barbara), The LarkLoquitaLucky's, Montecito Coffee Company, Olio e Limone RistoranteOpal Restaurant & BarPascale's KitchenRosewood Miramar BeachSan Ysidro RanchSanta Barbara Yacht ClubSavoy Café & DeliStella Mare's BistroThe Black SheepThe NuggetThe Secret IngredientToma Restaurant & Bar, and Zookers Restaurant.

In Santa Maria:

Blast 825 BreweryBuffalo Wild WingsChef Rick’sChic-fil-ACubanissimoFar Western TavernJack’s in Old OrcuttJaffe CaféJoy by the SpoonfulKay’s Country KitchenLido’s ConcessionsMoxie CaféOlive GardenPanera BreadRadisson Vintner’s GrillSanta Maria Country ClubSanta Maria InnShaw’sSplash CaféTesta CateringTrattoria UlivetoA Street Café and Zoe’s Hawaiian BBQ. The Foodbank sends heartfelt condolences and love to the Zoe’s BBQ family for the recent loss of owner Rex Matsunaga.

In Lompoc:

Alfie’s Fish & ChipsAmerican HostAngela’s RestaurantCajun Kitchen, Fresh Manna Catering

Hilton Garden Inn – Valle Eatery & BarLa BotteMariscos El PalmarMi AmoreMission ClubSissy’s Uptown CaféTom’s BurgersThe Village Coffee Shop and Wild West Pizza.

Everyone is invited to participate on social media by posting and sharing favorite Empty Bowls memories using the hashtag #EmptyBowls2020. By tagging the Foodbank, others can share in the caring and fun that are signature fare at the annual events.

Had the Foodbank been able to host live events in 2020, this would have been the 23rd annual Santa Barbara Empty Bowls and the 19th Annual Santa Maria Empty Bowls events. The 16th Annual Lompoc Empty Bowls was scheduled for March 28 of this year, but had to be canceled due to restrictions on large gatherings that had just be implemented as part of the county’s Covid-19 response.

Empty Bowls 2020 sponsors – whose generosity makes possible the doubling of all donations made by community members – include Foodbank Champion The Wood-Claeyssens Foundation; Foodbank Community Supporters: Aera Energy LLC, Bank of America, Busy Bee Organics, CenCal Health, Central Coast Agriculture, Frank Schipper Construction, Pacific Premier Bank, The Towbes Foundation, Mary and Don Thompson, Union Bank of California and Philip and Carolyn Wyatt; Foodbank Family & Friends: ExxonMobil, Imerys, Mechanics Bank and Vivid Financial Management; Foodbank Program Supporters: Allan Hancock College, Assisted Home Health/Hospice, The Barbara Ford Family, Baroda Farms, Inc., Bethel Lutheran Church, Scott Dahlquist, D.D.S., Danyel Dean and Peter Castellanos, Dignity Health Marian Medical Foundation, Farm Credit West, Mary Harvey, Dr. Rob and Heidi Holdsambeck, Leon and Elizabeth Olson, and Jack Tiethof and Anita Sy; and Foodbank Contributors: Animal Care Hospital, Campbell Ranches, CoastHills Community Foundation, Robert Coe, Community Bank of Santa Maria, Denmat Corporation, Ray and Alice Down, Engen Enterprises/Ventures, Inc., First American Title, Erik and Judy Frost, Jolene’s Elegant Hair Fashion, Kendall-Shepard Eye Center, James Raggio, Starbuck-Link Mortuary, Surf Connection, Village Veterinary Clinic and Wiser Property Management & Sales.

For more information, please contact the Foodbank at (805) 967-5741 ext. 104.

About Foodbank of Santa Barbara County
The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is transforming health by eliminating hunger and food insecurity through good nutrition and food literacy. The Foodbank provides nourishment and education through a network of more than 300 distribution programs operated by the Foodbank, its network of partner agencies, and volunteers. In Santa Barbara County, one in four people receive food support from the Foodbank; over 190,000 unduplicated people of whom 40% are children. Last year, the Foodbank distributed 10 million pounds of food–nearly half of which was fresh produce. The Foodbank’s innovative disaster preparedness initiatives are building a resilient Santa Barbara County. For more information, visit                                            

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