FORT WORTH, Texas - Record inflation is causing the price of food to go up, leaving those in need to turn to places like the Tarrant Area Food Bank in greater numbers.
Fortunately, the food bank's biggest fundraising event, the Empty Bowls Campaign, is back in person this year, with the event being even more vital this year.
Buying an empty bowl helps fill the bowls for struggling families.
Phil and Nancy Nichols are just two among hundreds of people supporting one of the largest fundraisers for Tarrant Area Food Bank.
"We donate our time and our resources," Phil said. "This is our favorite charity we love to participate with."
The bowls are colorful, skillfully designed, and unique. They highlight the food bank’s renewed effort to continue what it’s done throughout the pandemic by distributing tens of thousands of pounds of food to scores of people trying to make ends meet.
"It’s our signature event, kind of a play on words, empty bowls. Thinking about the community members that are hungry, whose bowls are empty," said TAFB President and CEO Julie Butner. "We saw some really crazy numbers during the pandemic, when people had a lot of job loss, but now, with the economy the way it’s turned, food costs have gone up. We have a housing shortage here, so rent is very, very expensive, utilities, those kinds of things. People are struggling again."
Tickets to the sold out fundraiser allow supporters to select one free bowl and the chance to purchase others. Area chefs and restaurants serve soup and other food for sampling.
"Anytime you can come together as a community to combat food insecurities, it’s amazing. This is really unique, the creativity in these bowls is amazing," volunteer Christie Howard said.
Longtime food bank supporter Mark Jones said the reality of North Texas families without food was, at first, hard to comprehend.
"I grew up in Fort Worth and it was like, ‘No, that can’t really be.’ Well, it is valid and the need is real. Once you comprehend that and volunteer and see it, it became a passion for me," he said.
And it’s clear he’s not alone.