The Foodbank of Santa Barbara County is more than halfway to its fundraising goal for Sunday’s 25th annual Santa Barbara Empty Bowls.
And tickets for the beloved community event are selling out fast.
The event, which raises funds for the nonprofit’s operations in South County and seeks to remind attendees of the often invisible nature of hunger in Santa Barbara, will take place at the Foodbank’s warehouse at 4554 Hollister Ave., Santa Barbara. Tickets for the 11 a.m and noon entry times have sold out, but remain available for purchase for the 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. slots.
The Foodbank has so far brought in $72,500 as of Thursday afternoon through ticket sales and sponsorships, with this year’s event offering attendees a variety of ways to help the Foodbank reach its goal of raising $120,000.
In addition to receiving a hand-crafted ceramic bowl with their choice of a curried yamp, Asian noodle, Tuscan white bean, or kale and sausage soup provided by Food from the Heart, attendees will be able to purchase one-of-a-kind items in a ceramics marketplace, succulent plants potted in handmade pots, as well as items from a special gallery section featuring artists such as Lauren Hansen and Joan Rosenberg Dent.
In-person attendees will also be able to participate in raffles for experiences and local wines, among other items. Additionally, the Artisan Gallery Silent Auction featuring the works of local artists will be open virtually at FoodbankSBC.org/Gallery22 until 5 p.m. today (Friday), with live bidding continuing during the event on Sunday.
Danyel Dean, the ceramics artist and educator who founded Santa Barbara Empty Bowls in 1997 and has chaired the event’s host committee since its inception, described reaching the 25th anniversary of the event as “an honor and delight.”
“The way the Empty Bowls project has expanded awareness for the Foodbank and food insecurity in our community is immeasurable,” Ms. Dean said in a statement. “The experience of helping create opportunities for people to donate their time and money to the Foodbank has been a joy!”
The annual fundraising event comes as the Foodbank continues to see a record need for its services that has lingered since the onset of the pandemic.
Judith Smith-Meyer, the Foodbank senior communications director, pointed to what she called “stubborn” inflationary effects, high gas prices and rising rents as the primary reasons that so many in the county are turning to the Foodbank for help getting by.
“It’s just taking a long time to recover from the economic effects of the pandemic — and then right as we’re coming out of it, everybody’s dollar is not going as far as it did, so people are struggling,” Ms. Smith-Meyer told the News-Press. “If a family is just making ends meet … (and) a child needs to go to the hospital and get stitches, that sets you back and suddenly you can’t put food on the table. Or if your car breaks down and you’ve got to fix it, that sets you back and you can’t put food on the table.”
“You have to pay your rent and you have to pay your electricity bill, but you can squeeze on food — and so there are people going to bed hungry because that’s the choice they have to make,” she continued.
In addition to securing funding to help the Foodbank meet these challenges, Ms. Smith-Meyer is looking forward to the feeling of community and joy that Santa Barbara Empty Bowls has brought out for the last 25 years.
“(It’s an) incredible joyful feeling that you get at an Empty Bowls event, where people are really coming together with great intentions with a spirit of giving and they’re surrounded by beautiful handmade art that you can take home with you” she said. “It’s just very fulfilling for the senses and for your spirit knowing you’re doing good at the same time.”