Empty Bowls Fundraiser Brings Together Community to Benefit Interfaith Community Services

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Empty Bowls 2024

Interfaith Community Services (ICS) is pleased to announce Empty Bowls 2024, the organization’s annual fundraiser. The 13th annual event will be held on Saturday, March 2 at the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center, 1288 W. River Road. Tickets are $35 each. VIP Admission begins at 11:00 a.m., with General Admission at noon.

Attendees enjoy signature soups, breads and desserts donated by local restaurants and food partners, participate in a silent auction and raffle, and select a beautiful pottery bowl—made and donated by a local artist—to keep.

Empty Bowls is a community event showcasing the work of dozens of local clay artists and restaurants. Potters are creating and donating more than 1,200 unique handmade bowls that will act as powerful reminders of those struggling with hunger in the Tucson area. Local restaurants will feed event attendees, allowing people from all over the community to sit down and share food together.

The event will also include a silent auction filled with jewelry and accessories, artwork, home décor, experiences and more. Ticket holders will have the opportunity to preview auction items online in the week prior to the event and participate in early bidding. Anyone, whether they have a ticket or not, can support ICS by bidding in the online auction, which will open to the public on March 1 and close at 1 p.m. on March 2 when winning bids are announced.

During the event, attendees can enter raffles to win restaurant gift cards, gift baskets, and more. Musical entertainment will be provided by bluegrass band Ocotillo Rain.

The Empty Bowls concept was started more than 30 years ago in Michigan by two art teachers. High school art students created ceramic bowls for use at a fundraising dinner of soup and bread. Guests who contributed to fight hunger in their community were given a bowl to keep. Independent Empty Bowls events are now held around the world, all with the same basic premise: people share a simple meal, then take home a handmade bowl to keep as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world.

Proceeds from Empty Bowls 2024 benefit ICS food banks and other services to help individuals and families in Pima County move from crisis to stability. Last year the food banks distributed more than 2.3 million pounds of food. The Northwest Food Bank and Mobile Food Bank combined serve about 5,000 families or households each month—up to 20,000 individuals. Many of those people visit a food bank multiple times a month.

“For many families, receiving food assistance from a food bank means they don’t have to make the impossible and overwhelming decision between buying groceries and paying the electric bill, eating or getting their prescriptions filled, having more than one meal today for their family or putting gas in the car so they can go to work,” says Tom McKinney, CEO of ICS. “We provided food to more people this year than ever before, with more distribution sites than ever before. With the support of the community, we will continue to fight hunger in Southern Arizona.”

Services provided by ICS go well beyond emergency food assistance. Emergency Financial Assistance helps prevent eviction and utility disruption for individuals and families. A suite of self-sufficiency programs supports participants as they move from crisis to stability to self-sufficiency. They receive help with financial literacy, finding a better job, finishing a college degree, and more.

Senior services at ICS provide mobile meals, transportation to medical appointments and shopping, social interaction, minor home repairs, and other supports that allow older and disabled adults to continue to live independently in their own homes. Finally, community health outreach provides learning opportunities focused on mental and emotional well-being and their impacts on self-sufficiency.

“Once ICS helps fill someone’s bowl—make sure they have enough to eat not just for today, but every day—there is so much more we can do to address other needs,” says Andrea Dillenburg, Director of Development and Communications at ICS. “Food security is just the first step on the pathway from crisis to self-sufficiency, and the money we raise from Empty Bowls helps take our clients all the way down the path. We start by addressing their physical needs, but our ultimate goal is for every client to experience dignity, belonging, and independence.”

Visit icstucson.org/emptybowls for more information.