The Empty Bowl began in O’Fallon in 2010 to celebrate The O’Fallon Woman’s Club 100th anniversary. I brought the idea of the Empty Bowl Luncheon with me when I moved here in 2009 from Tupelo, MS. Our first Empty Bowl Luncheon was served on Ash Wednesday at Katy Cavins Community Center in O’Fallon with approximately 300 people attending. That year we raised approximate $3000 that was donated to the O’Fallon/Shiloh Food Pantry. Due to the success of the event, we moved to Gateway Classic Cars venue in 2017. The Empty Bowl Luncheon has continually grown so that last year we raised over $12,000. We have approximately 30 “vendors” participate that donate soup, bread or water as well as several organizations that help make bowls or donate labor.
The O’Fallon/Shiloh food pantry is the main beneficiary as we donate 100% of the ticket sales in O’Fallon to a food insecurity program. In 2019 we also donated all ticket sales from O’Fallon Township High School to the “Feed Our Future” program that is a program within OTHS that allows qualified students food for the weekend. All of the money raised at Notre Dame High School in St. Louis South County is given to “Feed My People,” a local organization in south county St Louis that helps with food insecurity.
I am the original chairperson for the Empty Bowl Luncheon. I have served as chairperson every year except for 2016 – 2017 when I was serving as president of The O’Fallon Woman’s Club. Jan Todd served as chairperson during those years while I served as co-chair.
100% of the ticket sales from the luncheon go to support an organization that supports food insecurity in our community. The money can be used to purchase fresh food or perishable items or supplement any foods that the organization needs.
Empty Bowl is truly a community event. We have school children from the local schools make placemats, bowls and bus tables at the event. Local business, community organizations and restaurants provide soup, bread and water. Other organizations donate labor, sell tickets or donate supplies.
Ensure that the Empty Bowl Luncheon continues to involve the community to raise money for local charities that fight food insecurity, and grow into other communities by raising money and funding other local food based charities.