By: Joshua Danker-Dake | Category: Special Interest | Issue: April 2010
Attendees of CFBEO’s Empty Bowls fundraiser each receive a handcrafted souvenir soup bowl, handcrafted and donated by WaterWorks Art Center, as a reminder of the many empty bowls in Oklahoma.
Hunger is a bigger problem in Oklahoma than most people realize – we’re the fourth-hungriest state in the nation, according to the USDA. The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma (CFBEO) is working not only to raise awareness of the problem, but to remedy it.
Now in its fourteenth year, Empty Bowls, an annual hunger-awareness dinner and auction, is CFBEO’s premier fundraising event. This year, it’s Thursday, April 22 – Earth Day – at the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel. This year’s honorary chair is former Tulsa mayor Kathy Taylor. “Our theme this year is ‘Bountiful Earth,’” says Cindy Stevens, the food bank’s director of community relations. “Tickets for this event are $35, which includes a simple soup and salad dinner and a locally-made, hand-crafted souvenir soup bowl – these remind us of the many empty bowls in Oklahoma.” The bowls are handcrafted and donated by WaterWorks Art Center.
Silent and live auctions will feature hundreds of items, including handmade bowls, paintings and jewelry from many local artists, luxury items such as spa packages and getaways, and celebrity-signed bowls and memorabilia, including pieces signed by country singers George Strait and Reba McEntire, and chefs and authors Julie Powell (“Julie and Julia”) and Ree Drummond (“The Pioneer Woman Cooks”).
You can also take part in a wine pull. “We’ll have a hundred bottles of wine, ranging in value from $20 to $100, wrapped so you can only tell if they’re reds or whites, and for $20, you can pick one,” says Stevens.
Last year, over 550 people attended Empty Bowls, and the event raised over $120,000.
According to CFBEO, nearly a quarter of Oklahoma’s children live in poverty, and many of these children are at continual risk of going to bed hungry. Of those households served by emergency food pantries in eastern Oklahoma, over half of adults reported they’d had to skip meals because there wasn’t enough money for food, and nearly one in five reported that their children had also had to skip meals. Many reported they had to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities, rent, mortgages, gas or medical care.
CFBEO distributes an average of one million pounds of food each month and helps to feed 11 percent of the population in eastern Oklahoma annually — more than 60,000 people each week. The Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma supplies food to hundreds of partner pantries, soup kitchens and shelters, and provides the majority of the food many of these organizations use.
CFBEO accomplishes its impressive work funded by donations and grants, with assistance through USDA commodities. There are many ways you can help – and the food bank’s biggest fundraiser of the year is one fun way to do so.
In addition to monetary and food donations, the CFBEO also needs volunteers. If you’re interested, give them a call. For more information on the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, visit www.cfbeo.org.
Empty Bowls 2010 is April 22 at the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel at 6808 S. 107th E. Ave. Tickets are $35. The event begins at 6 p.m.; doors open at 5:30 and the auction starts at 7:15. For Empty Bowl reservations, call Frances Bevel at (918) 585-2800, extension 109.