‘Empty Bowls’ fundraiser helps Tupelo Salvation Army feed people throughout the year

Feeding program is more than just serving meals

TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – It’s one of the biggest fundraisers for Tupelo’s Salvation Army and it helps feed needy people throughout the year.

The ‘Empty Bowls” fundraiser is set for next month, and it helps fund the ministry’s feeding program, which has seen some big changes.

‘We’re on track to serve over forty thousand meals this year, which is a huge increase over the last two years,” said Capt. Rob Dolby.  He says a drop in temperatures has meant an increase in meals served at the Salvation Army’s Community Center.

“We’ve had lunch services up to eighty-five people, where typically it’s only around sixty,” Dolby said.

Proceeds from Empty Bowls, which this year will feature more than 100 restaurants,  go to the Salvation Army’s feeding program.

And recently, more emphasis has been placed on making sure people get healthy, nutritious meals and the Salvation Army has partnered with Native Son Farms, to do just that.

“They have a community supported agriculture program, one of our goals we started last year, we want to make sure we have fresh fruit and vegetables in one out of every three meals and we want to increase that.  We are also working with Native Son Farms to make sure we’re able to cook that, so they’re helping us with recipes and even sharing some of their employees who have more expertise in foodservice,” he said.

Another noticeable change at the Salvation Army during meals is the use of real plates for those who come in to eat.  Captain Dolby says small things like this can make a big difference.

“We want people to learn how to be sustainable when they do get their own home, so they’re not just eating off styrofoam, so they’re actually participating now with chores, helping to clean up, wipe down tables,” Capt. Dolby said.

The goal is not only to feed people but also to teach them life skills, through the feeding program, while people are living in the shelter, so they can use those skills when they are in their own homes.

Empty Bowl tickets went on sale today.  The fundraiser is set for  March second at the Tupelo Furniture Market.  The mobile canteen will be downtown at Renasant Bank for those who can’t get to the Furniture Market that day.  For ticket information, go to facebook.com/SATupelo

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