Bean’s Cafe launches Empty Bowl Project online auction, restaurant sales after public event is canceled

Bowls and soup mix are available for sale at Snow City Cafe and South restaurant.
Bowls and soup mix are available for sale at Snow City Cafe and South restaurant.(ktuu)
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 6:32 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - For the second year in a row, Bean’s Cafe has canceled its large community event: The Empty Bowl Project.

Director Lisa Sauder said COVID-19 concerns sparked the decision to cancel the fundraiser, which, according to Sauder, typically raises thousands of dollars each year.

“It is our largest fundraising event every year, and now two years with no funding from that causes concern for us,” she said.

The nonprofit is trying to continue the tradition in a new way. An online auction launched earlier this week offers people the chance to bid on items including some of the handmade bowls the event is known for.

Two local restaurants — Snow City Café and South Restaurant + Coffee House — are also offering the bowls for sale.

“We have wooden bowls; we have clay bowls; we have two different sizes,” said Sauder. “The smaller bowls are $30 and the larger bowls are $50. We have both the soup and cornbread mixes for sale,” she said.

Snow City Manager Ronnie Amy said they’ve had difficulty keeping the bowls in stock.

“Since we started the promotion, people would walk in and say, ‘I don’t want your food, I want the bowls,’” he said, adding that people seem to miss both the bowls and the annual event.

Sauder said money raised from the sales and from the auction will not be going toward the shelter services that Bean’s provides at the Sullivan Arena. Instead, the funding will go for The Children’s Lunchbox, another program run by the agency which offers food for children and families at more than a dozen sites.

“We know that is one of the greatest needs right now, not only the children, but the entire family. So many people are really struggling right now with job loss and reduction in hours,” said Sauder. “We’ve seen so many new people come and need assistance from our programs.”

The online auction runs through 9:00 p.m. Sunday. South and Snow City expect to have bowls for sale at their restaurants through April 18.

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