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Elgin Empty Bowl fundraiser serves up winning recipe

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    Majorie Matetsche (left) and Linnelle Wilson (right) enjoy some of the various soups offered. Photo by Julianne Hodges
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    A wide variety of hand-painted ceramic bowls were on display and available to attendees. Photos by Julianne Hodges
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    A silent auction with prizes ranging from work by local artists to a New Mexico mountain retreat raised more funds for Empty Bowl.

The soup was definitely on as nearly 200 Elginites and visitors gathered for the third annual Elgin Empty Bowl fundraiser held on November 16 at the SPJST Lodge Hall 18.

By all measures, according to event chair Stephanie Wood, the event was a great success.

“It was a beautiful, crisp November day and the ‘recipe’ was perfect for it—gallons and gallons of ‘warm goodness:’ 11 great soups, stews and chilies provided by some of Elgin’s best restaurants and caterers,” Wood said.

Added to the mix was a hand decorated ceramic bowl for each attendee. Also in the mix was a large silent auction with theme baskets, artisan goods, creative works by local artists and a raffle for a New Mexico mountain retreat.

“The critical ingredient,” Wood said, “was the broad support for this event—attendees, restaurants and caterers, volunteers, bowl painters, donors and sponsors. While a special shout-out is due Bluebonnet Electric, our title sponsors, each and every one of these supporters is our hero and collectively they are are clear sign of Elgin’s large and caring heart.”

This annual event raises funds for three organizations committed to combating hunger in the Elgin area. This year’s event raised a record amount, translating into more than 50,000 nutritious meals to Elgin residents in need. The proceeds will be shared among the Elgin Community Cupboard, the First Baptist Church’s Food Pantry and the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry. These organizations, Wood commented, are struggling daily to serve the rising number of local residents facing hunger; the funds generated by the event will be put to very good use in that cause.

But the event is also a competition for coveted “bragging rights” among the participating Elgin restaurants and caterers. This year, Roadhouse’s Loaded Potato Soup took double honors, voted by attendees as fan favorite and by the panel of judges as best cream-based soup. Southside Market & Barbeque's Tuscan Chorizo Soup was named runner-up in the cream based category. Jalisco’s Mexican Restaurant earned the best broth-based soup for its Chicken Tortilla Soup and runner-up in that category as well for its Shrimp Soup. The Roadhouse picked up another “best” in the stews category for its Beef Stew and won best chili for its Red Chili, narrowly edging out Meyer’s Elgin Smokehouse’s Three-Mistake Chili.

In the competition for best table presentation, Jalisco’s picked up a first with Southside Market named runner-up.

Now in its third year, the event has quickly become an Elgin favorite. Richard Miller of the Elgin Community Cupboard cited it as the best yet, and Tresha Silva of the Bastrop County Food Pantry commented, “The feedback we’re getting from attendees has been great and the funds raised will be critically important to our helping Elginites in need.”

“Special thanks are due SPJST Lodge 18 as well,” Wood added. “The Lodge opened its doors to this event and allowed us to readily accommodate the record turnout—and that, in turn, contributed to the fundraiser’s success.”

Since 1990, communities throughout the U.S. and at least 14 other countries have adopted the “Empty Bowl” theme to educate the public about the extent of local poverty and to fund local efforts to alleviate food uncertainty of those living in poverty or on its precarious edge. All such events, like Elgin’s, are independently organized but share this common message.