Nearly 800 attend annual Empty Bowl Luncheon

Members of the O'Fallon Womens Club take a moment to celebrate the end of the Empty Bowl event. Nearly 800 people attended the three hour luncheon and the club estimates it raised between $11,000 to $12,000 for the O'Fallon Food Pantry. (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

Members of the O’Fallon Womens Club take a moment to celebrate the end of the Empty Bowl event. Nearly 800 people attended the three hour luncheon and the club estimates it raised between $11,000 to $12,000 for the O’Fallon Food Pantry. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

O’FALLON – Nearly 800 people warmed up on a cold day with soup at the annual Empty Bowl Luncheon, put on by the O’Fallon Women’s Club.

Club President Sondra Marston said the members couldn’t be happier with the turnout for this year’s lunch.

“We exceeded last year. We donated just over $10,000 last year, but this year we’re on track for $11,000 to $12,000. We estimate between 750 and 800 people came through,” Marston said.

A member of the O'Fallon Garden Club serves up some soup at the Empty Bowl Luncheon. (O'Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

A member of the O’Fallon Garden Club serves up some soup at the Empty Bowl Luncheon. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

The Empty Bowl lunch was designed as a fundraiser that also helped to raise awareness of hunger in the community.

“There are people in our community who face empty bowls everyday, and that’s where the term came from. This is a fundraiser for the Food Pantry to help fill those empty bowls,” Marston explained. “Beth Lundy brought the idea to the Women’s Club about six years ago. She’s been our leader on this the whole time. Because of her idea, the Collinsville Womens Club has spun off from our event with their own big event coming up. And there are other local women’s clubs that are looking to host similar events as well.”

Each attendee received a hand-made or hand-painted souvenir bowl.

“The bowls are all hand made or hand painted by various civic groups, childrens organizations, church groups. Althoff High School, O’Fallon High School, the Scott Craft Center on base have all contributed bowls.  They’ve all been personally touched in some way,” said Marston.

Marston wanted to emphasize that while the Women’s Club organizes the Empty Bowl event, it couldn’t happen without the support of the community businesses and organizations.

“We have local restaurants, like Peel, the Mansion, and Hemmingways that have come out. We also have civic organizations, businesses, and more come out and serve soup. They all donate the food. Absopure donated the bottled water. Texas Roadhouse donates the bread. Its a huge community effort,” she said.