Empty Bowls soup luncheon raises $7,000 for food pantry

The $7,000 raised at the Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Homer Community Food Pantry will go a long way to keeping Homer families fed this winter. Nine potters and 14 restaurants donated bowls and soup in the lunch event last Friday at Homer United Methodist Church.

“We had such good support from the community,” said Homer Community Food Pantry Director Diana Jeska. “The turnout was outstanding, as was the help providing soup.”

Organized by ceramic artist Ruby Haigh, potters donated 100 hand-crafted soup bowls. People could purchase a bowl of soup with a bowl for $25 or just soup in the church bowls for $10. Jeska said the pottery bowls sold out in 15 minutes.

“That was wonderful having their support,” Jeska said of the potters.

With Haigh, other potters who donated included Marie Herdegen, Ahna Iredale, Lisa Wood, Eric Larson, Annette Bellamy, Cynthia Morelli and Jean Steele.

The fundraiser exceeded Food Pantry organizers’ estimates of what might be raised, with the highest guess at $5,000.

“When they told us the total, we dropped our teeth,” Jeska said.

The money will help support the food pantry’s efforts. Every Monday the group meets at Homer United Methodist Church to give boxes of food to families. Jeska said from 80 to 150 boxes are given out weekly, feeding families with as many as six people. About half the boxes go to single people. The food pantry also provides food boxes for villages across Kachemak Bay. Any leftover food goes to Anchor Point for distribution there.

The food pantry has faced some challenges this year, with an increasing demand and a decline in some donations. Because of a lawsuit against the corporate owner of Safeway, the Homer Safeway cannot donate dairy products close to their expiration dates, Jeska said. 

A request for comment on the Safeway lawsuit to Safeway public affairs was not returned by press time.

Save-U-More and Kachemak Whole-sale, Homer’s other grocery stores, do donate dairy products.

With the summer growing season past, donations of locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables and eggs also have dropped.

“We did not have very many as of Monday,” Jeska said.

The food pantry can use donations of potatoes, onions, carrots, eggs and fruit such as apples and oranges. And, of course, cash donations.

Jeska said the food pantry often sees people come in with other needs beyond food, such as assistance to buy heating fuel or stove wood, and even emergency housing.

“These are harder times. That’s very true,” she said.

For more information on how to help, call the Homer Community Food Pantry number at 235-1968.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at