Second Harvest Food Bank hosting virtual fundraiser with $60,000 goal

Empty Bowls event has received positive response online, Second Harvest development associate says.

The Second Harvest Food Bank of the Clark, Champaign and Logan Counties is hosting its spring Empty Bowls fundraiser with a goal of reaching $60,000 this week through Thursday.

The event is taking place virtually due to the pandemic. The fundraiser will conclude at 4 p.m. Thursday.

“Empty Bowls is one of our annual fundraisers we host here at Second Harvest Food Bank. Instead of having three separate events like we would in years past in each county, it’s just one big event this spring,” Audrey Vanzant, the food bank’s development associate, said.

Prior to the pandemic, the event was held in-person, in Clark, Champaign and Logan counties, and participants would purchase a bowl for $15. People would wait in line to have their bowl filled with soup, and all proceeds would go to the food bank.

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“With COVID, and the unfortunate situation with the pandemic, we’ve had to change everything and move to an online virtual platform. So now we have an online store on our website, and there, you can shop empty bowls, just like any other online shopping experience. You add to your cart, and can choose to come pick the order up, or we can ship it to you, and all the proceeds come directly here to Second Harvest,” Vanzant said.

There have still been victories for the fundraiser, despite the hardships of the pandemic.

“We’ve seen actually positive response because of it, from mid last year when we had to switch to online. Even though it’s been unfortunate that we can’t have it in-person and people can’t wait in line together, something great that has come from the pandemic is that by having this online store, we are seeing shoppers from Florida, or California, or Utah, who are choosing shipping. They’re able to have their bowls or merchandise shipped to them, and they’re able to support our food bank here,” she said.

Items listed on the online store include crafted bowls, as the name implies, along with vases, T-shirts, and tote bags. Participants can also donate and be entered in a raffle for a $100 gift card to The Spotted Cow Coffeehouse, Los Mariachis Mexican restaurant, The Syndicate restaurant, or the Brewfontaine bar.

“We’re looking to raise $60,000 from the fundraiser, which will help us here with our operating expenses, and the ability to fight food insecurity in our community. Because of the pandemic, we’ve seen a 200% increase in our operating expenses, and we’ve seen a huge increase of individuals we’ve served, about 76% since 2019,” Vanzant said.

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The staff at Second Harvest knows that even as they hope for the pandemic to wind down, the needs in the community will still be present, said Vanzant.

“With our goal for the fundraiser, we hope it can offset some of the costs, so we can continue to serve individuals in our area,” she said.

The Second Harvest Food Bank will be hosting another fundraiser in the fall. A date has not been announced.

For more information, or to participate, visit https://www.theshfb.org/.