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COVID-19 Cancels Empty Bowls

Stratford, Ontario – August 27, 2020 Stratford House of Blessing was planning to hold their largest ever Empty Bowls Dinner and Art and Adventure Auction in October of this year. They would have been celebrating the 10th anniversary of the event but have decided to cancel the dinner due to safety requirements and the necessary government restrictions on gatherings and social distancing relating to COVID-19.

At Empty Bowls, the tagline is “All You Can Eat and a Hand-Painted Bowl to Keep”. Guests choose from hundreds of bowls and then have them filled by local chefs with soup, stews, chilli, and rice dishes. Rustic breads are on the table in a basket and delicious desserts, tea and coffee are at side tables. In the center of the room is a large silent auction and on the front stage a band kicks off the evening while the live Art and Adventure Auction runs during the end of the meal. When the event wraps up guests go home with a full belly, the auction items they have won and their hand-painted bowl to keep.

Lisa Stanley, development coordinator of Stratford House of Blessing explains, “Our Empty Bowls event brings together our local community of fine artists, culinary artists, sponsoring businesses, volunteers and community members to celebrate art, food and friendship for a great cause. We are saddened to miss a year, but we would rather see everyone be safe and invest more time into making our 10th anniversary year the best Empty Bowls event ever.”

Proceeds from the annual Empty Bowls event support the operation costs of running the food bank safely and efficiently. Last year the event brought in over $30,000 from tickets, auction sales and business sponsorships. The loss of this revenue will definitely be felt by the organization. Stratford House of Blessing provided food to over seven thousand people in 2019 (35% children) in Stratford and surrounding rural areas. 2020 numbers to date are reflective of this with a low when COVID-19 restrictions were at their peak and a steady increase as the restrictions were lifted and food delivery reached more food bank recipients.

“Despite the pandemic, many artists have been busy painting bowls and auction pieces at home. We will be honouring the tradition of Empty Bowls and the work of our arts community by auctioning off a few pieces on Facebook during November and December as well as selling some bowls from our website. We are extremely thankful for the commitment and care these artists put into painting each ‘Empty Bowl’ so that Stratford House of Blessing can ‘Fill the Bowls’ of people who struggle with food insecurity,” explains Lisa Stanley.

For more information about Stratford House of Blessing visit their website or their social media pages @StratfordHOB. Don’t forget to save the date! Stratford House of Blessing’s 10th Annual Empty Bowls Dinner and Art and Adventure Auction will be held on Friday November 19, 2021.


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