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Hundreds attend Santa Maria Empty Bowls fundraiser

More than 700 people filled the Park Plaza Building at the Santa Maria Fairpark Wednesday to take part in Santa Maria Empty Bowls, a popular fundraiser now in its 15th year.

“It’s about making sure nobody goes hungry in the community,” said Darlene Chavez, Development Coordinator, Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. “We want to make sure everyone gets a healthy meal and it’s sustaining throughout the year.”

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For two hours, volunteers served guests in specialty-made bowls any one of 20 soups donated by local restaurants and hotels.

“Everyone who comes here gets a hand-crafted ceramic bowl,” said Chavez. “These are beautiful works of art.”

In those bowls, servers poured soups such as clam chowder, chicken tortilla, lentil, gumbo, minestrone and many others.

“It’s really a festive and fun environment,” said Chavez. “It’s also a great networking event as well. We have hundreds of people who attend this event in two hours, so it’s really a lot of fun, but it’s also a great cause to give back to the community.”

Money raised will benefit the Foodbank Santa Barbara County. In addition to the $25 ticket donation, money was also raised through a raffle, which included a variety of prizes, such as wine, restaurant and entertainment certificates, jewelry and much more.

“It stays local,” Chavez said. “It’s all in Santa Barbara County and it goes back to all of our non-profits that we work with. We work with over 300 non-profit organizations, everybody from Catholic Charities to Salvation Army to the Rescue Mission. We provide food to these organizations that then give it out to individuals and families, and we also do nutritional education, so it’s all about feeding the local community and feeding healthy.”

For those who were unable to attend, but would still like to donate, you can visit the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County at

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