Empty Bowls Event to Feature Local Potters, Soup, and Hunger Relief

26724869_rPR98V-21The line starts forming an hour before the doors open. That’s when the semi-mad dash begins for the “best” bowls. Preference, of course, is relative. One person might grab a bowl donated by Throwing Mud Gallery, and another person chooses a bowl made and donated by a child at the Washington State Fair. Once selections are made and paid for, with all proceeds going to Emergency Food Network (EFN), attendees make their way to eat free soup, donated by Viva, Pacific Grill, The Swiss, Adriatic Grill, Infinite Soups, X-Group Restaurants, Alina Soups, Puget Sound Family Health and Chambers Bay.

It’s an annual tradition enjoyed by more than 500 people each year. More than 1,500 bowls are purchased for the home or for holiday gifts, and more than 700 bowls of soup are consumed over 2.5 hours. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, November 22, 2014 at Charles Wright Academy from 1:00pm-3:30pm. Admission is FREE. Bowl prices start at $10 and go up from there.

Empty Bowls began as a grassroots project for local artists and community members to work together to assist people suffering from hunger. The event now spans to twelve countries and many states across the U.S., generating millions of dollars for various hunger relief agencies. For the last 15 years, EFN has hosted Empty Bowls in Pierce County, highlighting works from talented veteran artists and new local talent. In 2013, EFN raised over $30,000 from Empty Bowls. This is the equivalent of 180,000 meals for food-insecure Pierce County residents.

26724869_rPR98V-14In 2013, EFN distributed 15.6 million pounds of food to 63 area food banks, meal sites, and shelters. EFN made it possible for our partner food programs to accommodate 1,404,755 total visits in Pierce County. Since 2008, the demand for emergency food has increased 69% in our community. To assist in meeting this need, EFN relies on events like Empty Bowls.

The continued success of Empty Bowls is due to the overwhelming community support from artist who donate the bowls, volunteers who set up and help run the event, local restaurants that donate soup, and the 500-plus community members who attend the event. “Empty Bowls provides all the lonely bowls I make throughout the year a wonderful home,” says Jenifer Davis, a local potter who throws bowls every year for the event. “I love that I can be part of this wonderful event.”

For more information, visit www.efoodnet.org and click on the events page or donate button, call 253-584-1040, or email info@efoodnet.org.

Collective Generosity at Emergency Food Network’s Abundance Auction

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The formula for providing healthy, nutritious, staple food for hungry people in Pierce County is pretty simple. The more funds and food donated to Emergency Food Network, the more food the organization can provide. On October 25, attendees at EFN’s annual auction raised $325,000–enough funds to provide nearly 2 million meals to hungry families and individuals throughout the community.

“The concern for our neighbors in need that was shown was absolutely amazing.” said EFN Executive Director Helen McGovern-Pilant. “Every year when I see bid cards flying up, I get chills while adding in my head how many hungry people we’ll get to feed as a result. Every dollar provides six meals and all the people here tonight are so generously ensuring that we can fight hunger in Pierce County with funds for healthy, nutritious food.”

The evening began with a silent auction, and moved on to dinner, live auction, and presentations about hunger in Pierce County. Tim Solomonov, a student at UWT, told how when his family first immigrated from Ukraine in his childhood, they relied on food banks while finding their legs. He shared how he was “shocked” to see the amount of healthy food on his first tour of EFN. From there, a video showed the true scope of our county’s need, which has grown to 1.4 million food site visits in 2013, and 117,000 visits each month so far in 2014. EFN helps by distributing 15.5 million pounds of food annually. The auction total accounts for 15% of their operating budget.

Considering EFN’s ability to distribute $12 worth of food for every $1 donated, EFN’s powers of multiplication will have a huge impact on the food system. That is how $325,000 results in 2 million meals.

“Once each year, the McGavick Center is the place where our supporters help us make incredible strides towards ensuring that no person goes hungry,” added EFN Board President Therese Pasquier. “We hope everyone had fun, and we also hope everyone left knowing that they made a huge difference for the 63 food banks, meal sites, and shelters in our network. We’re grateful to all who attended tonight, and to our Presenting Sponsors: Waste Connections and Franciscan Health.

For more information, visit www.efoodnet.org and click on the events page or donate button, or call 253-584-1040, or email abundance@efoodnet.org.

Hunger Action Month



September is Hunger Action Month, a nationwide campaign by Feeding America to mobilize the public to take action to fight hunger. Here’s how you can raise awareness about the 1.4 million annual visits to Pierce County Food Banks:

  1. Wear Orange on September 4, and share a photo on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter with the hastag #goorange
  2. Make it a point to volunteer this month at Emergency Food Network or at your local food bank. Contact volunteer@efoodnet.org
  3. Host a food drive in your place of business or community group. Challenge others to see who can raise more! Post about your success! View EFN’s Food and Fund Drive Kit.
  4. If you are healthy and can do so safely, try skipping a meal this month and donating what you would have spent on that meal to a local emergency food program like EFN or one of the sites we serve. Make a video of your endeavor, and post it to your social media pages (It’s better than pouring a bucket of food on your head!).

More Action:

  • Invite a food bank speaker to talk to your group about hunger in our community
  • Donate extra produce from your garden to your local food bank (post about it!)
  • Start putting together your walking team for the Pierce County Hunger Walk on October 5!
  • “Like” Emergency Food Network on Facebook, follow Emergencyfoodnetwork on Instagram, and follow @efoodnet on Twitter

Scavenger Hunt and Edible Tour at Organic Farm for Youth Volunteer Event


Does getting kids to have fun eating vegetables and pulling weeds sound like a cruel joke to you? Not to Emergency Food Network­, which will host Youth Days at its Mother Earth Farm Aug. 16. Participants will take an edible tour, participate in a farm scavenger hunt and volunteer weeding project for the second and final event of the

Emergency Food Network’s Youth Days presents an opportunity for youths age 8-15 to gain awareness of local hunger issues while engaging in a fun, half-day, outdoor experience at its Mother Earth Farm in the Puyallup Valley. The 8-acre organic farm provides fresh fruit, vegetables and honey to Pierce County food banks.

“In a nation of supermarkets, Mother Earth Farm can be a reminder that not everyone has access to fresh fruit and vegetables,” Helen McGovern-Pilant, executive director for Emergency Food Network says. “We want to illustrate to the younger generation how even they can help to provide access to organic, fresh, locally grown produce to others.”

Fresh fruit and vegetables, which seem like basic staples, are much harder, if not impossible, for many food-insecure families in Pierce County to attain, McGovern-Pilant says. With its Mother Earth Farm, Emergency Food Network produces more than 150,000 pounds of organic food, available to food banks the same day harvested.

Mother Earth Farm’s assistant farm manager, Anika Moran, leads Youth Days, informing participants of organic agricultural principles and how the farm operates with biological and mechanical processes that recycle resources and promote a healthy ecological environment. Moran guides youth on an edible tour of the farm, letting them taste rhubarb, collared greens, basil and other produce grown at the farm.

“Even veggies like collared greens become appealing or fascinating to kids when they pull them straight from the ground,” Moran says. “It’s important to show kids how produce is grown, and that fruit and vegetables aren’t just boring grocery store products mom brings home in plastic bags.”

After the edible tour, youth participate in a scavenger hunt for items found at the farm, finding items such as a home for insects or three types of weeds. They also take part in a weeding project where they pull and identify various types of weeds.

“We show them weeding can be fun when you’re doing it for other people,” Moran says. “They know the produce they help harvest is going to hungry families.”

For more information, visit www.efoodnet.org and click on the events page, or email volunteer@efoodnet.org.

Breaking Hunger Trap Shooting Tournament Targets Food Insecurity

BH TeamFinding fun, fresh, innovative ways to combine people’s passions with their giving is tough in a landscape of golf tournaments and auctions. To accommodate the increase in demand for food at the 60 food banks, meal sites, and shelters that Emergency Food Network (EFN) serves, Darren Schuldheiss, Board Member at Emergency Food Network and Director of Client Acquisition Strategy at Key Private Bank, took aim at combining two of his passions: fighting hunger and shooting clay pigeons out of the air.

On August 1, 2014, the Gig Harbor Sportsman’s Club will host 100 shooters for the annual “Breaking Hunger” Trap Shooting Tournament, one of the few fundraising events of its kind in the Northwest. In teams of five, each shooter will have the opportunity to break 50 clay pigeons and as an added bonus, participate in an archery contest. Participants pay an entry fee and are encouraged to find friends and family to pledge money to support their efforts.

When Schuldheiss  first came on the Board, he was quoted as saying, “The fact that more than 117,000 people each month seek emergency food assistance in Pierce County, and 53% are children and seniors–if that doesn’t motivate you to get involved, nothing will. I am humbled to have the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors of EFN and roll up my sleeves in the fight against hunger.”

He wasn’t kidding. Schuldheiss came up with the concept for this event and for the last three years he has been the driving force to make it happen. The Gig Harbor Sportsman’s Club (GHSC) has also been an amazing partner by hosting Breaking Hunger since its conception. “I have been amazed at the gracious reception that the Gig Harbor Sportsman’s Club has exhibited since I first brought this idea to them,” says Schuldheiss. “The club really cares about the community and has a rich history of that. Le Rodenberg the GHSC President has been a fantastic resource. Mr. Rodenberg’s wife Jeannie has been a long-time volunteer at the FISH Food Bank in Gig Harbor so the club has been a great partner to work with. Members have generously volunteered to be involved in a variety of ways to make this event a success.”

Anyone can shoot, says Schuldheiss, “participants will range from some of the top shooters in the state to complete beginners. Prizes will be available for skill, but most importantly raising money for Emergency Food Network.”

Emergency Food Network’s mission is “to provide Pierce County with a consistent, diverse and nutritious food supply so that no person goes hungry” EFN distributes nutritious, staple food to 60 food banks, shelters, and hot meal sites in Pierce County. They do this through a combination of sources, including purchased food, food donated from grocery stores and food distributors, food received from food drives, and food grown at EFN’s 8-acre organic Mother Earth Farm, which produced 100,000 pounds of fruits and veggies in 2013, distributed to food banks on the day of harvest. Eighty percent of all food in the county makes its way through EFN’s 22,000 square-foot warehouse in Lakewood. EFN has an administrative overhead of less than 4%. In a down economy, more families and individuals turn to emergency food programs to get by from week to week and month to month. EFN is the primary distributer of emergency food in the county, distributing $12 worth of food for every $1 donated. With the demand at food programs increasing 69% since 2008, EFN’s efficiency and reliability is more important than ever.

“The goal of Breaking Hunger,” says Schuldheiss, “is to have a safe, fun event that raises enough money to put $250,000 worth of food on Pierce County tables.” Information about the event and a registration form can be found at www.efoodnet.org.

To register for Breaking Hunger online click here.

For information about the Emergency Food Network, to donate, or to learn about volunteer opportunities, visit www.efoodnet.org, email info@efoodnet.org, or call 253.584.1040


The Feed: June eNews

Click here to view The Feed: June eNews

In this issue: KeyBank Makes a Difference at Mother Earth Farm, Annual Peanut Butter Drive, Tour EFN’s Warehouse, Join us at Casino Royale!, Volunteer at Mother Earth Farm, Volunteer of the Month

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