GSM Empty Bowls Project Marks 15th Anniversary With Dinner Event


For the first time in the 15-year history of the Good Samaritan Ministries Empty Bowl Project, the event was dinner only from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Brownwood Coliseum.

The Empty Bowls Project is the largest fundraiser of the year for Good Samaritan Ministries with 90% of the proceeds staying in Brown County to benefit local hunger ministries such as the Food Pantry, Food for Thought, Homebound Program, Homeless Boxes, the Deer Project, the Pig Project and the Mobile Food Pantry. The remaining 10% this year will be donated to Heifer International, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

We had a lot of requests for an evening event,” said Leesa Stephens, Executive Director of Good Samaritan Ministries. “Last year when we were able to host the Professional Women’s Summit at lunch, we heard a lot of the working women say things like ‘I painted a bowl but I never got to come because I was at work,’ or people said ‘I work in the industrial park and I only get 30 minutes for lunch, I can’t make it in.’ We just decided to take a page from the playbook of the Kiwanis Club, they do an evening only event with their Pancake Supper, so we’re hoping to attract folks that were never able to come before. And we hope people familiar with Empty Bowls concept were able to come back.”

Empty Bowls also featured a new setup at the Brownwood Coliseum this year, with the bowls being placed in the middle of the coliseum floor. In years part, the bowls were on either side of the floor of the coliseum while this year the soup providers occupied the outer portion of the floor.

This is the 15th annual Empty Bowls Project, and it seemed like with this being a monumental year, we thought it might be a great year to switch things up,” Stephens said. “I believe that the flow is better, but everyone still goes straight to the bowl table. We’re also going with a little more ambiance with the lighting, so the lights are a little dimmer to have a little more atmosphere.”

The 2024 version of Empty Bowls also featured an uptick in soup providers, with 16 local restaurants and businesses contributing.

Some of the ones that have always been with us include the Runaway Train, Heart of Texas Camp, 4-H Center, United, they all have donated soups and are soup sponsors,” Stephens said. “Then we purchased bread and desserts from a number of places like Chick-fil-A, Artisan Baked Goods, United, the Baptist Camp, the 4-H Center, Grazed and Confused and Hendrick hospital. And there’s still just water to drink because it’s a simple meal of soup that ties into the whole Empty Bowls concept of a meal and taking home an empty bowl as a reminder of the fight against hunger and food insecurity both locally and globally.”

On behalf of Good Samaritan Ministries, Stephens thanked all the sponsors who made the 15th annual Empty Bowls Project a reality.

I want to really thank our sponsorships this year, they were incredible, especially considering April in Brown County has been the fundraising month,” Stephens said. “We didn’t know what to expect, but we want to say thank you to all of the event sponsors because they’ve come through for us in a big way. Thank you to all our soup sponsors as well. We haven’t had those in two years and we didn’t know how that would go, but we want to thank everyone who helped with that.”

Also, the Empty Bowls Resale Store event will take Saturday, April 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the proceeds that day will go toward helping GSM’s seven hunger ministries.