When attending Empty Bowls, it can take less time to taste soup from 17 different restaurants than to pick one bowl to take home.
“I’ve gone around like 20 times,” Kaitlin Verrinder said of circling the table that held hundreds of bowls. “I got one a couple years ago. It’s bright red with leopard spots, and I love it.”
The 23rd annual Empty Bowls event, held on Nov. 3, benefited Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee. What used to be two smaller events, one in Lakewood Ranch and one in Bradenton, was combined into one big event this year.
“This location always had a much bigger turnout here in Lakewood Ranch,” CEO Maribeth Phillips said. “I think being outside, people just love it.”
Over 500 people gathered on Lakewood Ranch Main Street for a soup tasting, and each one took home the bowl of their choice after a grueling decision. The one-of-a-kind treasures are handmade by local clay clubs.
The funds benefit the Food Bank of Manatee, a program of Meals on Wheels Plus Manatee.
“It benefits the food bank community, and now more than ever, people are relying on our food distributions to get food on the table for their families,” Phillips said. “Prices have gone way up, and many people are just one episode away from the despair of having to decide, ‘Do I fix the flat tire, pay the doctor, or go and buy food?’”