Did you know that in Palm Beach County -- a county known for its wealth -- nearly 200,000 residents do not know where their next meal is coming from?
A local church is using bowls of soup to help solve that problem.
The fifth annual Palm Beach Empty Bowls at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach kicked off this morning, with all of the proceeds benefiting the Palm Beach County Food Bank.
Here's how it works: For a $25 donation, patrons received a bowl of delicious soup and artisan bread but they also got to take home an empty bowl as a reminder of the empty bowls on the tables of the hungry families in our community.
"Try to help people realize that in a place as beautiful and prosperous as this, no one should go hungry here. And we want to do everything we can to alleviate that," said reverend James Harlan.
Around 40 local restaurants and clubs have donated delicious soups, along with artisan bread donated by Old School Bakery and water donated by Publix, with soup served by local government, business and community leaders.
Last year, the church was able to raise $75,000 for the food bank. They expect to surpass that amount this year, with a record-breaking $100,000 raised from the Empty Bowls event.
Rev. Harlan said it's heartbreaking how many people are food insecure in the community. Right now, over 63,000 children in Palm Beach County go to sleep hungry each night.
"We hope in having the opportunity to come and share a simple but wonderful meal and to take that bowl home, that it remind people every day that as they enjoy their food, others are going hungry," he said. "Our hope is that in as much as we raise money today to support the palm beach county food bank, that people will have that on their minds and support it even more than that."
The Palm Beach County Food Bank collects 5 million pounds of food annually which it distributes to 115 local agencies which provide it directly to those in need.
The church's generosity this month doesn't stop at soup and bread.
Sunday, February 11, the church is still looking for volunteers to help pack 150,000 meals for the homeless and hungry. You can sign up for one of three 60-minute shifts. The event takes place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Palm Beach Day Academy.
On Sunday Feb. 18 and Feb. 25, the church is hosting the Share What You Can Food Drive.