Empty Bowls McKinney: Where Foodies, Artisans and Philanthropists Unite
Guests attending the 7th annual Empty Bowls McKinney are in for a wonderful evening which harmoniously blends a foodie experience with artisans and philanthropy. With the cost of admission, guests will sample gourmet soups, bring home a local artisan created bowl and help fight hunger in northern Collin County. 15 food vendors (see list of vendors on the front page ad), many of which are McKinney restaurants, will provide chef prepared gourmet soups which guests can sample to their heart’s content. Guests will also get to choose a bowl from over 1,000 one-of-a-kind bowls handcrafted by local artists. This event is organized by St. Peter’s Episcopal Church (400 N. College St. McKinney, TX). All proceeds will be donated to Community Lifeline Center (CLC). In 2018, Empty Bowls McKinney provided more than 80% of the funds spent on food for CLC's Lifeline Market (emptybowlsmckinney.com).
Jamie St. Clair is the Empty Bowls McKinney event coordinator. She has been a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church for 21 years. She said that approximately 17 years ago, St. Peter’s started their partnership with CLC when they began their Easter basket ministry. “Everyone makes sure people are taken care of at Christmas, but Easter is most important at our church so we wanted people to have meals at Easter.” CLC is a non-profit organization that is a resource that assists local residents manage crises and navigate their way back to self-sufficiency (communitylifeline.org). The partnership took the form of St. Peter’s providing a ham and side dishes, then congregation members “adopted” people who had come to CLC for assistance and made sure they had an Easter meal complete with holiday treats. This benevolent endeavor was funded by a craft fair.
Over time, the partnership has grown between St. Peter’s and CLC. In 2012, Empty Bowls McKinney was started by St. Peter’s as a new fundraiser that would benefit CLC. St. Clair said, “At St. Peter’s, we are very passionate about helping the community and fighting hunger.” “The Empty Bowls Project is an international crafts-based effort to end hunger.” (davisart.com) St. Clair provides details as to how this fundraiser began, “For the first three years, we held it at the church. I would go to six or eight restaurants with big orange beverage containers and ask for donations of soup. I’d bring them back to the church where we’d put the soup in turkey roasters in the kitchen. People would get to choose one serving of soup.”
After three years, they outgrew the church and moved the event to the McKinney Performing Arts Center. St. Clair said one year a restaurant decorated their booth and now all the restaurants have followed suit. “They come out guns blazing, it’s a real competition. They decorate their booths to look like their restaurants which allow guests to learn about the character of the restaurant while they are here.” Vendors donate their services and product. Guests are encouraged to vote for the People’s Choice Award by putting dollars in the donation box at each booth. (This money is also given to CLC.) Last year’s recipient of this award was earned by Layered. St. Clair said of their award winning Smoked Salmon Chowder, “They didn’t even serve soup at Layered. But, it was such a hit they now serve it in their restaurant.”
In 2014, the online auction portion of the fundraiser was added. To view and bid on these bowls go to https://www.benefitbidding.net/auctions/listings/index.cfm?auction=468&category=xx. Some items made specifically for the auction were made by celebrities, such as Allison Harris, Fox 4 Reporter. The celebrities partnered with artists to make these extraordinary bowls. The amount raised so far via the auction is $900.
On display at Empty Bowls McKinney will be facts related to the hunger problem in northern Collin County. Facts such as: Food insecurity in Texas is higher than the national average. 1 in 7 Texans struggle with hunger. 1 in 4 Texan children struggle with hunger. Residents may live in a nice house or drive a nice car, but also may have lost a job or had a family crisis that can lead to this situation.
In 2012, they estimate 100 people attended the event and $4,500 was raised. Last year, 877 tickets were sold and they raised $7,500.
St. Clair said of her participation in this endeavor, “This has been God-led the entire way. In my opinion, God is entertained by watching me grow. I couldn’t even ask people for money when we started this… I’ve learned so much.”
Empty Bowls McKinney will be held on May 16 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the McKinney Performing Arts Center (111 N Tennessee St, McKinney, TX 75069). Tickets can be purchased at https://www.emptybowlsmckinney.com. Ticket prices: General admission $35 + $3.77 fee. This price allows for entry at 6 p.m. and includes your choice of a handmade bowl and soup samplings from vendors. Collector’s Club Admission $75 + $6.20 fee. This price includes early entry at 5:30 p.m. through an exclusive entrance. Choose your handcrafted bowl from a special collection and sample soups by local vendors (limited tickets available, advance purchase only). Children 10 and under are free. Allows for entry at 6 p.m. when accompanied by an adult. Ticket includes soup samplings from vendors.