The annual Empty Bowls fundraising event will return to Tuscaloosa this month to benefit the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in their fight against hunger in the region.

The fundraiser, in its fifteenth annual iteration, will also allow attendees to pick out a hand-made bowl created by local artisans or University of Alabama ceramics students. For a $15 donation as an entry fee, attendees receive a meal comprised of soup, bread and water as well as the hand-made bowl. For an additional $5, attendees can take a bowl to-go.

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The empty bowl that attendees get to keep is intended to serve as a reminder of those in West Alabama who go to bed hungry.

“This event has a real and meaningful impact on the community,” the nonprofit's director Jennifer Shepard said. “Empty Bowls’ proceeds cover the cost of an entire month’s distribution, providing food for up to 300 households in our local community.”

The Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry uses the money raised from Empty Bowls to purchase food from the West Alabama Food Bank — they say every $15 dollars amounts to 65 pounds of food — which the food pantry then distributes.

Inspiration for the event came from a high school art teacher in Michigan, who crafted a class project around making ceramic bowls to help his students creatively support a food drive. The idea spread and the Empty Bowls event has since expanded to several locations nationwide.

Sponsors of the event include Grace Presbyterian, the UA Art and Art History Department, the Kentuck Red Dog Potters and food donations from local restaurants. To attend, bring a $15 donation in either cash or check to Grace Presbyterian Church on 113 Hargrove Road on Mar. 24 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

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