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South Wood County Empty Bowls Event Hosted by FOCUS on February 17th

Source: Melissa Kaye

South Wood County Empty Bowls Event Hosted by FOCUS on February 17th

Mary Schultz talks with James Malouf about the 10th anniversary of the South Wood County Empty Bowls event.

February 12, 2024 3:47 PM CDT

By: Melissa Kaye

Wisconsin Rapids, Wis (WFHR, WIRI)

This is the 10th anniversary of the South Wood County Empty Bowls event happening on February 17th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It originated as part of the Hunger Coalition with United Way of South Wood and Adams Counties. They ran the event until 2020. Mary Schultz told James Malouf on Mid-day Magazine she had volunteered to help the Hunger Coalition with Empty Bowls for a couple of years. At the time, she was also serving on the FOCUS board. When it was time to pass the torch for hosting the event, FOCUS decided they would take it on. This was shortly after FOCUS was formed by the merging of three different programs into one nonprofit organization. South Wood Emerging Pantry Shelf (SWEPS), The Neighborhood Table (TNT), and the Rapids Family Backpacks (RFB) programs. The pandemic stopped the event from happening in 2021, but they’ve been going strong the last two years.

History of the Empty Bowls project

The Empty Bowls project started in 1990 with an art teacher in Michigan. John Hartom wanted his students to help with a local food drive. The students made ceramic bowls and invited the faculty to a soup lunch and requested donations. The idea took off and today, schools all around the country host community Empty Bowls events. The non-profit organization provides guidance to anyone wishing to host a fundraising event. Founder, John Hartom says organizers can use the name. They only ask that funds raised be distributed locally to benefit local food banks, soup kitchens, and shelters. Events are similar across the country. For a small donation, people attending get a meal and a bowl to remind them of hunger.

This year’s event will be bigger and better

This year will be the second year FOCUS is hosting the South Wood County Empty Bowls event in their new facility. It’s located at 2321 West Grand Avenue in Wisconsin Rapids. https://focusofswc.org/about-us/#news Last year they served exactly 350 people. On February 17th this year, they’re hoping to make it even bigger and better. 11 different area restaurants are donating soup and there will also be homemade rolls. For a $10 donation, people attending will receive a simple meal of soup, bread, beverage, and a cookie. The bowl you receive your soup in is handmade by a local potter or pottery student. It is yours to keep as a thank you for your support. Funds raised from the event will provide direct food relief to our neighbors in need.

You can find the full interview with Mary Schultz and James Malouf at Mid-day Magazine on February 2nd, or at this link: https://civicmedia.us/shows/morning-magazine

You can find more information about the event on the FOCUS Facebook page, or at this link: https://www.facebook.com/FOCUSNeighborhoodMeals/

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