Skip to content

Empty Bowls event serves up $30K to local organizations

Shelter House and the Thunder Bay Food Bank will each receive a little more than $15,000 each from the 20th annual event, held last month at the Moose Hall.
Empty Bowls Caring Hearts Cheque
Thunder Bay Food Bank chair Reino Pitkanen (from left), Shelter House's Kimberley Kennedy on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019 accept cheques worth $15,000 apiece from Empty Bowls, Caring Hearts co-chair Jay Stapleton. (Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY – For 20 years, the annual Empty Bowls, Caring Hearts dinner has been raising money for food security causes in Thunder Bay.

This year was no different.

On Saturday, representatives from both Shelter House and the Thunder Bay Food Bank accepted $15,004 cheques, the proceeds of the Oct. 20 dinner that saw local potters and chefs donate bowls and meals in an effort to strike back at hunger in the community.

Reino Pitkanen, chair of the Thunder Bay Food Banks, says in the past eight years demand has grown from about 450 families a month requiring their services, to more than 1,400 at present.

Every dollar counts, he said.

“We’ve got an excellent cheque and we can’t ever thank them enough,” Pitkanen said. “They are one of our major contributors. A good portion of our funding comes from this event and we kind of count on it every year.

“Every year they come through and they seem to exceed themselves year after year and that is just amazing.”

Shelter House’s Kimberley Kennedy, said it’s a huge contribution that plays a major role in letting the organization do what it does best – keep the homeless off the street and well-fed.

“It allows us to feed an average of 610 people a day through our feeding program. And it just shows that when community comes together, how big of a heart that Thunder Bay has. It’s such a wonderful thing for us to be a part of,” Kennedy said.

Jay Stapleton, co-chair of the Empty Bowls, Caring Hearts organizing committee, said the event has continued to be a success for 20 years for a number of reasons.

“It’s an event that’s designed to bring focus to food insecurity. We bring people together for a humble meal and raise some money for some charities in the city that deal with people who have food insecurity,” Stapleton said.

“A big part of that has been the potters, who have been supporting this event for the last 20 years. They donate all the bowls we give out at the event, and of course we have chefs that donate the soups and the Lakehead Unitarian Fellowship which provides us our organization umbrella.”

Stopping hunger is important, he added.

“These two organizations do so much good work that it’s just a really good feeling that we have all of these people who volunteer their time and their efforts and their goods and come together and make a really significant contribution to these organizations each year.”

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
Read more


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks