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Empty bowls, full hearts: for 20 years, luncheon raises money for food pantries

Empty Bowls
Posted at 5:46 PM, Dec 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-07 18:46:51-05

FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — As the weather gets colder, many turn to a classic comfort food staple - soup. Wednesday, the dish brought the Fond du Lac community together to raise money for local food pantries.

The “Empty Bowls” event, established in 2002, is an annual luncheon where, for a donation of $18, guests can receive six bowls of soup from local restaurants.

Nettie McArthur is a manager at Fond du Lac restaurant Salty's Seafood & Spirits and has been volunteering with Empty Bowls for the past two decades.

“Food always brings people together,” McArthur said. “You know, whenever you have people getting together, what do you do? You plan the food.”

While Empty Bowls has national ties, organizers say the event is just about Fond du Lac helping Fond du Lac.

“We're not really centrally affiliated with any empty bowls program other than the one local here in Fond du Lac,” Brock Thomas, an event organizer, said. “It's just an idea that we took and we kind of ran with that.”

McArthur said she looks forward to connecting with other restaurants and customers every year.

“It's great,” McArthur said. “I mean, when we see all the customers that come through the line, it's like they're here to also support us and support the community too. So, it's one hand that feeds another. It’s a really great feeling.”

This year, the event attracted almost 300 guests for lunch, and many, like Sandra Miller of Fond du Lac, come back year after year.

“It’s the best ever. I mean, it's fantastic,” Miller said. “These people all care about each other and it shows… There's a lot of need in the community. So you know, we were really happy to be part of giving and sharing with the restaurants that are doing this today.”

Organizers say last year, the event raised about $7,000— a number they hope to top this year.