Different bowl, same soul PHOTO

Empty Bowls Project organizer Claudia Heath (left) accepted a $250 check from Graves County Independence Bank President Darvin Towery (right) on March 3. The check would reportedly help feed 80 people through the Mayfield-Graves County Food Pantry.

For six years, a local grassroots movement has fed residents while also encouraging them to feed their neighbors. Last year would have been its seventh incarnation, but like many things in 2020, COVID-19 restrictions forced its cancelation.

This year, however, event organizer Claudia Heath is working to make sure it happens, one way or another.

Empty Bowls Project 2021 is moving forward after Heath received positive feedback on a proposed coupon system. While normally a bustling social event filled with restaurant vendors and hungry people, Empty Bowls this year will be scaled back to prevent any chance of viral spread.

“They (restaurants) loved it. They thought it was an outstanding idea,” she said.

Residents can purchase tickets for $15 to enter the Trace Creek Baptist Church Family Life Center. People will be required to wear masks to get a bowl and the number allowed inside will be limited. Once inside, a person can pick up a bowl and take it to the exit table. There it will be bagged with a random assortment of restaurant coupons and other goods.

Heath noted people can buy multiple tickets, which will net them more bowls, bags and coupons.

As of Wednesday, Heath said 17 restaurants were participating this year, which included A&B Barbecue, Applebee’s, Carr’s Steakhouse, Domino’s Pizza, Dairy Queen, Happy House Restaurant, Hardee’s, Hoskins BBQ, Larry Darrell & Darrell Barbecue, Mayfield Creek Market, Red’s Donuts, Rita’s Cafe, Snappy Tomato Pizza, Taco John’s, Catfish House, and Wilma’s Kountry Kitchen. Additional participants are expected.

She noted that all coupons would expire by May 31 with the exception of Happy House Restaurant coupons, which requested theirs not expire until June 30.

After the coupon holder makes a regular purchase at the designated restaurant, they can use it. Heath said most of the coupons are either “buy one, get one free” or “buy one, get one half off.”

Heath said that as restaurants have been particularly “hurt” by COVID-19 and subsequent government restrictions, she said she couldn’t ask them for anything they “can’t afford to give.”

In light of the changes, she remained hopeful that next year would be a return to form. Over its six-year span, the event has pulled in more than $78,000, which she says is “mind boggling.”

“It has made me realize what a great community that we live in here,” Heath said.

She added that every penny from ticket sales goes to the Mayfield-Graves County Food Pantry.

The event will run from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on May 1. Tickets are currently on sale at the Trace Creek Baptist Church office, the Good News Shoppe and the Mayfield Graves County Food Pantry.