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House of Blessing getting set for Empty Bowls

The food bank will hold its annual event on its own premises on Erie Street in a scaled down version compared to past years

A popular Stratford House of Blessing Food Bank fundraiser is going through a few changes this year. 

Organizers are presenting a "limited edition" Empty Bowls event, shifting the emphasis of the event. 

Supporters can purchase hand-painted bowls, take guided tours of the facility, and witness firsthand how supporting the food bank makes a difference in the Stratford community.

While past years have included up to 900 bowls on display, this year’s event is scaled down to 200, said Kelsey Lauersen, resource coordinator at the food bank. 

"We are emphasizing awareness this year," Lauersen told StratfordToday. 

The food bank itself will also be the venue for the event, another change from past years. 

The food bank is a social service organization providing on-site pick-up and/or home delivery of free fresh, frozen, and shelf-stable food, hygiene products, diapers, and formula, as well as additional supplementary services to all people in need.

The organization said guests can get a firsthand account of the "transformation of an empty bowl into a nourished soul."

“Food donations have seen a decline this year, which is understandable given the economic challenges faced by many," said Lauersen.

While the event holds a special place as an artistic, signature, fundraising event, the goal is still to be impactful in the community, she said. 

"We've restructured the event to invite donors into our building so that they can see exactly where their money is going and how their financial support makes a huge difference to our community."

The need for food in the community is starting to outweigh what is being donated or available, Lauersen added. For a donation of $20, you can own a bowl and "join our mission to fill not only the bowls but also the lives of those in need."

Bowl purchases will include a complimentary food sample from restaurant partners, including Soup Surreal, Joe’s Diner, Black Angus Bakery & Catering, and Bowl Bar (Keystone Hospitality).

The Empty Bowls fundraiser runs Oct. 23-27 from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. while supplies last.