Empty Bowls funds Shelter House and Thunder Bay Food Bank

THUNDER BAY – The 2023 edition of the Empty Bowls Caring Hearts fundraiser collected over $32,000 for both the Shelter House and the Thunder Bay Food Bank.

The cheques were handed out Thursday to both Allison Hill, food bank chair, and Kathleen Eaton, who was on hand representing the Shelter House board.

“Empty Bowls has been a fantastic supporter of the Shelter House, and these funds will be a tremendous help to stock our shelves,” said Eaton.

“We feed our clientele daily for lunch and dinner so this will enable us to go for groceries to help feed those in need.”

Shelter House is also busy these days behind the scenes, which includes getting close to hiring a new executive director.

“We're always looking for improvements,” Eaton noted. “Our building is older so we're looking at ways to update the property. We just renovated the outside patio and we are looking at doing more in the near future.”

Meanwhile it’s been 24 years and counting for the Thunder Bay Food Bank being the recipient of funds from the Empty Bowls campaign.

Allison Hill said the funds will help fill their shelves.

“We get a lot of food donated from the community, but every time we're open, we need to purchase more food, in particular, fresh food,” Hill mentioned. “We will be buying fresh produce, milk, eggs, and other items that will be given out to members in the community who need it. These funds allow us to do that.”

Hill also pointed out the food bank is the only one in the city that offers halal options for meat.

"As a board, we discussed how we were seeing more and more newcomer families at the food bank, refugees or immigrant families, who appreciated the food but didn't necessarily have the same choices as our other clients because of the Muslim faith and the need for halal food.

“We looked at whether we could afford to purchase halal meat. We have been able to do that. Sometimes it's more challenging than others, so we don't have that option every single time we're open, necessarily. But we really try to offer that to our customers.”

The Thunder Bay Food Bank is always looking for donations, which can be made here.

“We wish we didn't have to exist. We wish that families had enough of their own resources that they didn't need to access food banks,” Hill said.

“Having food banks open was supposed to be a temporary measure, and they're still open today and the need keeps growing. Something's wrong with that scenario.”

The 25th edition of Empty Bowls Caring Hearts is planned for October and has raised over $400,000 since starting in Thunder Bay in 2000.

Kevin Jeffrey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,