Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette The Cecilian Bank employees Lindsay Green, right, and Shirley Knue pick out their bowls during the 2018 Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Grayson County Alliance.

Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette

The Cecilian Bank employees Lindsay Green, right, and Shirley Knue pick out their bowls during the 2018 Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Grayson County Alliance.

The second annual Empty Bowls fundraiser held Monday saw more than $5,000 raised for the Grayson County Alliance.

A total of $5,800 was raised from the event, which represents 15,773 meals the Alliance can distribute through the local food pantry. The Empty Bowls fundraiser consists of community members' either decorating or making bowls to be sold at a dinner in February.

This year's event was held Monday afternoon at the St. Joseph Catholic Church Parish Hall, and around 260 bowls were prepared by various organizations and civic groups, which is up from the 143 bowls prepared for last year's fundraiser.

Attendees of the empty bowls were encouraged to donate $25, which, according to Grayson County Alliance Executive Director Debbie Childress, equates to 67 meals the food pantry can provide. After making the donation, attendees could select one of the donated bowls and have it filled with soup, donated by five area restaurants. The local Knights of Columbus also provided bread for the event.

The 20 gallons of soup went quickly, thanks to increased community support this year. Several who attended had also prepared bowls for the event, including 10-year-old Mallie Herrington, who painted one at her church, Leitchfield United Methodist, and was also excited to pick out one of her own.

The bowls serve as a keepsake for attendees to remember that, in their own community, many are facing an empty bowl at their dinner tables, Childress said.

About 175 people attended the event, and 41 tables were sponsored for attendees to sit and eat.

Not only did the event serve as a fundraiser for the local food pantry, Empty Bowls also gave the Alliance an opportunity to raise awareness of the cause of hunger in Grayson County.

The Alliance hosted a number of "paint parties" over the last few months in which participants decorated bowls for the event and were informed on the issue of hunger, Childress said.

22 percent of the Grayson County community lives below the poverty line, she said, and education is essential for this issue to be addressed. With this in mind, Childress will be joining several other advocates and officials in Frankfort, Kentucky next Wednesday, Feb. 20 to advise state legislators about hunger as part of Hunger Free Kentucky Day.

To encourage solidarity in the fight against hunger, Childress is encouraging Grayson County residents to wear orange (the color that represents hunger) to show their support for hungry families. Individuals who do so are also encouraged to take a photo and post it on social media to help spread the message.

In addition to educating legislators on the issue of hunger, Childress will also be sharing the local impact of Farms 2 Food Banks, a program that provides funds to help farmers recoup losses for produce that would otherwise not be sold because of cosmetic imperfections or overproduction by providing them to food banks across the state.

"In 2018, we distributed 61,259 pounds of fresh produce through Farms 2 Food Banks right here in Grayson County," Childress said. "We are proud to partner with our food bank, Feeding America Kentucky's Heartland, and the Kentucky Association of Food Banks to share the importance of fresh produce to the health and well-being of our county."