It takes more than 6 million meals to feed thousands of hungry Texomans each year. Serving 12 North Texas counties makes it difficult for the Wichita Falls Area food Bank to provide enough. That's where this month's Newschannel 6 Community Service Champion nominees come in. They've organized a huge fundraiser to benefit the food bank called Empty Bowls. Last year was a huge success and they're currently gearing up for the second annual event.
"We're looking at about 14,000 kiddos within a 12 county area who are either hungry or food insecure, and then you take the total number which is about 40,000. So, hunger is real and it's here," Paula Perkins said.
Empty Bowls is an international grassroots effort to fight hunger. Seeing there was a dire need in Texoma, co-chairs, Paula Perkins and Leslie Schaffner introduced the event last year to the Wichita Falls community.
Guests pay $35 to attend a soup luncheon. Restaurants donate the food and artists from Midwestern State University volunteer their time and talents throwing the ceramic bowls sent home with those in attendance. The keepsake serves as a reminder of all the empty bowls in Texoma.
"To see everybody to come together in one place to put all their efforts behind saying, 'We want to try to eradicate this problem in our community.' It's wonderful, very rewarding," Perkins said.
The event raised enough money last year for the Food Bank to provide about 200,000 meals. The price of one ticket feeds more than 100 people.
"It's really two fold. It's to raise funds for the Food Bank but also to raise awareness about hunger. So by coming in and participating in the soup lunch, people feel like they are making a tangible difference for others in our community who are in need," Shaffner said.
Executive Director Mark McKethan said the Food Bank has decided to dedicate the Empty Bowls funds to produce purchases.
"So that we're not only providing meals but were improving the quality of nutrition of meals that are served in our area," McKethan said.
While these ladies are quick to give the credit to the countless volunteers and sponsors, the event wouldn't have been possible without their countless hours of dedication.
"The leadership they brought to the event and gave to the event ensured that it flowed as flawlessly and wonderfully as it did," McKethan said.
While the event went off without a hitch, the women realize the hunger problem in Texoma is only growing.
"Not only has it made us more mindful of the people in our community who are food insecure and need help, but it has made us more mindful that we are all susceptible to having this impact our lives. So, it has been a humbling experience," Shaffner said.
"Their passion is critical and they put together a passionate committee of people. I feel strongly as long as they're with us that passion will continue and it's going to help us continue to address the issues," McKethan said.
This year's Empty Bowls event will be Tuesday, October 15 at the Museum of Art at MSU. It's from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. You can get tickets at any United Super Market or at the Food Bank, 1230 Midwestern Parkway.
Then, we will start a new year of nominees in November. If you know someone who goes above and beyond to serve your community, nominate them by clicking here.