Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 27, 2013

Empty bowl event helps fight hunger; support local farmers

TRAVERSE CITY — Organizers expect that more than 800 people will attend the popular Empty Bowls event when organizers celebrate its 10th anniversary on April 14 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hagerty Center.

Proceeds will go to the Fresh Food Partnership, a coalition of nonprofit organizations and volunteers that buys locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables to distribute to pantries, community meals programs and shelters in northwest Michigan.

For a $15 contribution, Empty Bowls attendees enjoy a luncheon that includes a meal of soup and bread, live music, a silent auction, and a handmade bowl to keep as a reminder of all of the empty bowls in our area, said Karen Fulkerson, program coordinator for the Fresh Food Partnership.

“Empty Bowls is our largest fundraiser and it’s become one of the can’t-miss events in our community every spring,” Fulkerson said. “This event helps to provide literally thousands of our neighbors with regular access to fresh, healthful fruits and vegetables, an opportunity they might not otherwise have.”

Fulkerson said the region’s emergency food system continues to see huge increases in people seeking food assistance. Northwest Food Coalition statistics reveal that nearly 382,000 visits were made to pantries, shelters and community meal programs in our area in 2012, the highest number on record. This number represents an increase of 62,000 visits from 2011 and a five-fold increase in visits since 2003, the year the Fresh Food Partnership was founded.

“The need has never been greater, so we aim to make this year’s Empty Bowls event our best ever,” Fulkerson said.

Founded in 2003, the Fresh Food Partnership distributed nearly 70,000 pounds of fresh food to people in need while reinvesting almost $53,000 back into the local agricultural economy.

To prepare for the event, local students and artists are donating hundreds of handmade bowls, with special bowl-making workshops hosted by Blackbird Arts and others. Food is donated by the area’s finest restaurants and bakeries, including vegetarian and gluten-free options.

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