Culinary Artists Add Additional Flair To Empty Bowls Fundraiser

247479009-tomato-soup-ladle-dish-object-potMore than 18 years ago, the Food Bank for Larimer County’s Empty Bowls fundraiser began in art class at Lopez Elementary School when the school’s art teacher inspired his students to create empty bowls to represent those who didn’t have enough to eat. Since then, area artists have worked together to support the event and the fight against hunger in the community.

This year, beyond the coveted hand-crafted bowls created specifically for the event and the artwork showcased in the annual silent auction, Empty Bowls is proud to feature the culinary arts. With the expanding list of quality, local dining options in the community, area chefs are using their creativity to invent tasty and distinctive soups for this year’s event.

One unique addition to this year’s menu comes from the Food Bank’s new community kitchen manager, Justin Kruger. Kruger joined the Food Bank in December after moving to Fort Collins a little over a year ago to be closer to family. With 11 years of restaurant experience in Portland and Napa Valley, he brings a new perspective to the Food Bank kitchen. For this year’s Empty Bowls, Kruger will be preparing Fabuda Asturiana, a traditional sausage and bean soup from Northern Spain. Kruger perfected the recipe when he was executive chef at a tapas restaurant in Oregon.

“The owners of the restaurant traveled extensively in Spain and asked me to add Fabuda Asturiana to the menu,” explained Kruger. After extensive research and experimentation, Kruger developed his signature recipe. “I’m excited to use my skills to help the mission of the Food Bank in any way I can.”

Another new addition to the Empty Bowls’ menu comes from one of the city’s newest restaurants, The Kitchen. “The Kitchen’s mission ‘Community Through Food,’ is founded upon the belief that the ability to share good food and drink connects us as a family, friends and community,” said Whitney Flight, Hospitality Manager at The Kitchen Fort Collins. “As a part of the Fort Collins community, we are so pleased to provide food to the Food Bank for Larimer County[‘s Empty Bowls event] so that others may enjoy the comforts and value of a shared meal.”

Also new to this year’s menu is the Pateros Creek Cache La Porter Cheese Soup, from Silver Grill Cafe. This fun and unique collaboration soup will be served with cinnamon roll croutons. The newly opened Anheuser-Busch Biergarten will provide Chef Antoine Salazar’s smoked red pepper and tomato bisque.

Empty Bowls has grown from offering five signature soups in 1998 to twenty soups in 2015. Confirmed restaurants include: Anheuser-Busch Biergarten, Austin’s American Grill, Bisetti’s, CooperSmith’s Pub & Brewing, Crown Pub, Fish, Fiona’s Deli and Catering, Food Bank Community Kitchen, The Moot House, Panino’s, PVH Café 1024, The Rio, Silver Grill Cafe, Spoons Soups and Salads, Spring Creek Grill at The Hilton and Whole Foods.

The 18th annual Empty Bowls Fort Collins will be Thursday, February 5 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Hilton, 425 W. Prospect. Event guests will enjoy hand-crafted soups and have the opportunity to select a pottery bowl made by students in the Poudre School District or by local artists from the City of Fort Collins’ Pottery Studio and the Northern Colorado Pottery Guild. A very limited amount of tickets remain. Tickets are $50 each or $95 for a pair and can be purchased online or by phone (970) 493-4477.

Year in Review

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   “I never thought it would be this hard.”

                       — Food Bank Client, Senior, Living on Fixed Income




As we head into 2015, here’s a snapshot of last year’s work.

In 2014, the Food Bank for Larimer County…

  • served 29,034 individuals through Food Share (up 2.7%)
  • provided 8,918,016 pounds of food (enough for 7,431,680 meals)
  • distributed 3,406,648 pounds of fresh produce (up 16.6%)

Of additional significance and concern is the fact that the number of seniors we served through our Food Share pantry increased for the fifth year in a row. Our older clients tell us how difficult it is to find affordable housing, pay for medicine and other necessities on a fixed income. In the words of one client, “I never thought it would be this hard.”

And despite reports of economic growth, the need for food assistance in our community is still great. We see it every day in the lines outside our door. We hear it in the stories our clients tell of their struggles to find good paying jobs that cover expenses like rent, childcare and utilities. And, sadly, we learn about the struggles of the retired teacher who lost everything she worked for after a catastrophic illness.

With all of these stories in mind, we will continue to look for ways to better serve our clients in the coming year. As always, we are grateful for our supporters who allow us to work towards our vision of a hunger-free Larimer County.

Tough Choices

The lines we see during the long, cold days of winter remind that many of our clients, who are already struggling to make ends meet, face tough choices every day. Food or heat? Food or childcare? Food or rent? Food or medicine? Whatever their situation happens to be, these families and individuals don’t have enough money to buy food and sometimes have to skip meals or make a simple sandwich last an entire day.

Fortunately, with the help of supporters like you, we are able to provide food to our neighbors in need. Clients can visit our Food Share pantry twice each week to acquire fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, cheese, milk and bread. Our services allow our clients to use their limited funds for housing, transportation to get to work, heat or other necessities.

The 2014 Hunger in America Study conducted by Feeding America, revealed the face tough choices our clients face:* 

  • 79% had to choose between food and medicine/medical care

  • 76% had to choose between food and utilities

  • 67% had to choose between food and transportation

  • 54% had to choose between food and housing

  • 39% had to choose between food and student loans or tuition

*Choices clients reported making in the past 12 months.

What would you choose?

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