Food for Thought Blog

25th annual Empty Bowls raises 71,000 meals for people in need

June 2nd, 2023Events

The 25th annual Empty Bowls fundraising event in support of The Food Bank of Waterloo Region was a huge success! Thanks to our generous community, we raised an incredible 71,000 meals for people experiencing food insecurity in Waterloo region.  

This year’s event took place on May 31 at Lazaridis Hall at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Waterloo campus and was presented by the university’s Robert Langen Art Gallery. 

Over 500 people attended either the lunch or dinner seating. At each seating, guests received a beautiful, one-of-a-kind bowl of their choosing that was handcrafted and donated by members of the Waterloo Potters’ Workshop. Attendees filled their bowls with their choice of gourmet soups prepared by local restaurants and caterers. Afterwards, they were able to take their bowl home. 

For lunch, guests indulged in chowder from Caudle’s Catch Seafood, tomato soup with coconut and ginger from Red House, cream of mushroom soup from Solé, tortilla soup from The Lord Of The Tacos, Central Vietnamese lemongrass noodle soup from The Wooden Boat Food Company, minestrone potage from Top Toques Institute of Culinary Excellence, and 3 sisters vegan chili from Wilf’s. 

For dinner, attendees enjoyed garlic mushrooms from Classic Indian, cream of mushroom from Delicious Dishes Food Co., coconut Thai chicken from Foundry Tavern, Ontario asparagus leek from Little Mushroom Dining Lounge, smoked cauliflower velouté from S&V Uptown, and 3 sisters vegan chili from Aramark Laurier Food Services. 

At the lunch seating, attendees were entertained by the sounds of Matt Hinojosa, a local musician and Laurier student, who sang and played guitar. 

During each seating, local Métis Chef Sydney Keedwell gave a short talk on food insecurity in the community. Sydney is the chef at Aadanjige Café and Catering as well as the food and nutrition coordinator at White Owl Native Ancestry Association, a youth-led non-profit that provides support and programming to Indigenous people. Sydney’s speech was presented by Bennett Wealth Management of RBC Dominion Securities Inc. 

“As a child growing up, we were in a food insecure household,” Sydney told the crowd. “So that means, yes, we did rely on food bank services and growing up, we thought that was something to be embarrassed about. As I grew up and entered the real world, it was nothing to be ashamed of.” 

White Owl Native Ancestry works closely with Wisahkotewinowak, an Indigenous garden collective in Waterloo-Wellington, to grow and distribute food to families in need. 

“When I started in January, we had about 16 families who relied on us weekly for our fresh produce,” Sydney explained. “And now with the rising cost of food, we have about 30 families on our weekly roster.” 

Similar effects are being felt at The Food Bank of Waterloo Region. Alison De Muy, one of the directors on The Food Bank’s board, echoed this sentiment when she spoke at the event. 

“More people than ever are accessing The Food Bank, many of whom have never accessed it before,” she said. “In the 38 years of the history of The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, this is predicted to be our busiest year ever.” 

Thank you so much to all who attended. Your support of this event helps us feed the more than 40,500 people in Waterloo region struggling to afford to put food on the table. We would also like to thank our in-kind supporters: AV Ontario Inc., Belgian Nursery, Canadian Linen and Uniform Service, Cobs Bread, Parker Media, @PSH, and Tucker’s Pottery Supplies Inc.