Ozarks Food Harvest’s Empty Bowls fundraiser moves online to help provide meals

September 18, 2020

Local artists donated more than 300 bowls for the event supporting weekend meals for children across the Ozarks

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.— Ozarks Food Harvest and Panera Bread are partnering for the seventh annual Empty Bowls fundraiser to raise awareness and funds to fight childhood hunger. Currently, 1 in 5 children in the Ozarks aren’t sure where their next meal will come from.

The event will take place online this year at From Sept. 18-30, interested participants can bid on handcrafted wood and ceramic bowls in a virtual silent auction. The first 250 people to sign up will receive a coupon for a free meal of soup and bread, courtesy of Panera.

“We hope that even more people have the opportunity to learn about the Weekend Backpack Program since the event is online this year,” said Denise Gibson, director of development and communication at Ozarks Food Harvest. “Children in our community need help to fill their tummies over the weekends, and each purchase of a handcrafted bowl will make a life-changing difference for these kids.”

Proceeds from this year’s event will benefit the Weekend Backpack Program. Each bowl will have a starting bid, along with information about the artist who made the bowl. In addition, bidding participants will be entered into a raffle to win Panera bagels or bread for a year.

All of the donated bowls are handcrafted by local artists. The Woodturners of Southwest Missouri have been creating and donating bowls since 2014. The group—a chapter of the American Association of Woodturners—gathers to discuss woodturning and strengthen the woodturning community once a month.

“The Woodturners of Southwest Missouri have always felt that if we could use our art to help raise money for such a compassionate cause, that we will have helped to make a positive mark in the Ozarks,” said Larry Randolph, president of the Woodturners of Southwest Missouri.

Since 2014, Empty Bowls has raised more than $37,000 to provide 149,600 meals through Ozarks Food Harvest’s programs and hunger-relief partners.

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About Ozarks Food Harvest — The Food Bank
Ozarks Food Harvest is the Feeding America food bank for southwest Missouri, providing food to 270 organizations across 28 Ozarks counties serving 261,000 unduplicated individuals. The Food Bank provides more than 22 million meals annually. Learn more at, or