Empty Bowls Monongalia Soup and Bread Luncheon 2015

By Candace Nelson - 10:00 AM

Empty Bowls MonHundreds from across Monongalia County gathered on Saturday to handpick a unique bowl, sample dozens of locally made soups and help support the hungry in our community.

Empty Bowls MonEmpty Bowls Monongalia held its annual Soup & Bread Luncheon at the Hazel & JW Ruby Community Center at Mylan Park from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The event, which seeks to raise money to provide support for organizations that combat hunger while also promoting awareness about local hunger issues, sought to raise $125,000 this year.

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Empty Bowls is a worldwide project that was originally started as a high school arts project in Michigan in 1990 and has since spread to local communities. The first Empty Bowls event was first held in February 2007, and as organizers recognized the need to expand, the nonprofit Empty Bowls Monongalia was formed that summer.

Empty Bowls MonThe goal of the Empty Bowls luncheon is twofold: Patrons purchase $15 tickets in exchange for a handmade ceramic bowl and dozens of delicious soups. Proceeds go toward local food panties and kitchens. Guests keep their bowls as a reminder of the meal's purpose - standing in line for the soup so others don't have to and remembering that someone's bowl is always empty.

Empty Bowls MonThe event has soups and breads/rolls donated from local restaurants and business. Cookies are donated by local church groups.

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I had heard about the event from a friend and had it marked on my calendar for quite some time. About 70 restaurants donate all kinds of soups, and the money raised goes to charity. That sounds like a perfect way to spend my Saturday.

Tickets could be purchased at local shops, which guarantee a ceramic bowl, or tickets could be purchased in person on the date. I went to my trusty Slight Indulgence shop and carried this ticket around for about a month until the date finally rolled around.

Empty Bowls MonI arrived right at 11 a.m., and there was already a long line. Once I finally got to the front, I realize they were only seating full parties. So I stood at the front of the line - reading who donated cookies, who donated bread and who donated soup - until the rest of my party showed up. Once we were all together, we were seated by a volunteer. At the table was a pan full of bread, another full of cookies, and another volunteer greeted us and asked if we'd like drinks.

Empty Bowls MonWe first venture to the Bowl Room to select our bowl. You don't eat out of these, but you do get to keep them. After selecting about 20, I settled on one with marbled clay that sat on a pedestal. I was sold after one volunteer, Lisa, shared that the artist, Scott, dug the clay himself and marbled it together. How cool is that? That's mine on the right.

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THEN we approached the soup stations. There were eight stations in a row, with volunteers scooping out spoonfuls of soup (say that three times fast). A sign hung above each station denoting what kind of soup and who donated it. BUT soups are constantly changing out as they run out. They just replace one after the other as it runs out. So you can be in line and by the time you get to the front, it's something totally different. And then people are switching lanes when a new one comes out that they really want. It's exciting.

Empty Bowls MonI tried to jot down as many as I could during my three trips up and back. One lane remained vegetarian. Tutto Gelato - Tomato Florentine. Charlie's Grill - Stuffed Green Pepper. Vice Versa - Oyster Stew. Mario's Fishbowl, Tilted Kilt, Schmitt's Saloon - Chili. Chaang Thai - Lemongrass Soup. Atomic Grill - Hearty Vegetable. Mid Atlantic Market, Haught Diggity Dogz - Potato. Table 9 - Beef Barley. Real Juice Bar, Bob Evans, Grandma Jean's Country Kitchen - Chicken Noodle. Vintage Room - Tomato Bisque. Two Fat Cousins - Maryland Crab. Lakeview - Creamy Tomato Bisque. Beehive Cafe - Vegetarian Vegetable. Heston Farm - Italian Wedding. Woodburn Shanks - Brisket Chili. Flying Fish - Seafood Chowder. Charlie's Grill - Red Pepper Chicken.

Empty Bowls MonEach time, they hand you a new bowl - but keep your spoon! I had the tomato florentine, stuffed green pepper and chicken noodle. All three were tasty. I am dying of curiosity of what other soups were offered, though.

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Did anyone else go? Which soups did you get? I think it's a great event where you get to support your community, get to sample some offerings from local business and have a keepsake to remember next year's event.

And I learned they'll have a chili cookoff at the end of summer. Marking that on my calendar ASAP.

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