Pay it Forward: Empty Bowls returns to Old School Square in support of food bank

Stephanie Dodge and Marla Garchik are co-chairwomen of the fundraiser. Photo provided

By Amy Woods

The statistics speak for themselves: One out of six residents in the county does not know where the next meal is coming from, and more than 100,000 schoolchildren qualify for free breakfast and lunch, according to the Palm Beach County Food Bank.

On Dec. 8, the fourth annual Empty Bowls Delray Beach aims to spread the message that food insecurity plagues a county synonymous with wealth.

“The need to fight hunger in Palm Beach County is very real,” said Marla Garchik, co-chairwoman of the event. “Our goal is to bring awareness to the rising community that faces this struggle.”

The benefit for the organization that supplies food to more than 200 partners, including food pantries, housing programs and soup kitchens, will provide each guest with a simple lunch under a tent at Old School Square as well as a symbolic bowl to take home.

Area chefs will create more than three dozen varieties of soup that will be ladled by local leaders and served with bread from Old School Bakery. The bowls to be given out were decoratively painted by students from American Heritage, Gulf Stream, Pine Crest, Saint Andrew’s and Saint Joseph’s Episcopal schools, among others.

“I really feel that it’s our responsibility to inspire people to get involved and share this awesome experience of ending hunger,” co-chairwoman Stephanie Dodge said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Dodge noted that while 1 in 6 residents worries about how to get the next meal, the other five worry about where.

“Most of us worry about where we’re going to go out to dinner,” she said. “And it’s just not our town. It’s other towns, and it’s other counties, states, countries. It’s a global thing to fight hunger, but it has to start in our own backyard.”

If You Go
What: Fourth-annual Empty Bowls Delray Beach
When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 8
Where: Old School Square, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach
Cost: $25 in advance, $30 at the door
More info: Call 670-2518 or visit

Send news and notes to Amy Woods at

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