By Joy Holmes Multimedia Journalist
Congressman Doug Collins of Gainesville and his team painted empty bowls Tuesday for Hunger Action Month’s upcoming Empty Bowl Luncheon hosted by the Georgia Mountain Food Bank.

The Empty Bowl Luncheon is a fundraising event where community members take part in a lunch, a silent auction and a presentation highlighting the impacts GMFB makes across North Georgia. Guests take home a small hand-painted bowl as a thank you token and a reminder of the food bank’s mission to eliminate empty bowls in the surrounding communities.

“It’s important to know [food insecurity] exists. I think it’s interesting that even in a community in which we have a lot of good things going on, there are times and struggles with people and families trying to make those ends meet,” Collins said.

Collins’ team, who have participated in the bowl painting for the last three or four years, have contributed to the 1,400 bowls that will be given away at the luncheon on Sept. 24 at Lanier Technical College.

“What we’re doing is really holding the community,” Collins said. “Someone who would be holding this bowl, it symbolizes that we’re all in this together and that that bowl holds a thought,” he said.

Each bowl in uniquely painted, and in some cases the bowls are painted as a representation of a particular story, hardship or moment of the artist’s life – atleast that’s what inspired Collins’ design.

Collins’ bowl, which was painted a vibrant yellow on the outside and a sky-blue on the inside, showcased his touch of abstract art with flowers. Collins’ inspiration came from a personal level and recent experience in his life.

“My story today is hope. Over the last year, I’ve had a lot of loss. My mom passed away a little over a year ago, my uncle passed away just a few weeks ago, but at the same point in the midst of loss, a flower will always bloom,” he said.

This year marks the 11th annual event for the GMFB. The event was held at First Baptist Church in Gainesville for several years, but the food bank changed locations to increase the guest capacity. Lanier Tech will house nearly 1,000 people, which will help the organization extend the awareness of modern-day food insecurities in the surrounding counties, Kay Blackstock, the executive director at GMFB said in an earlier interrview.

Along with the new location, the luncheon will begin with new special guests. The presentation of colors will be displayed by Riverside Military Academy and fifth grade ambassadors from New Holland Elementary School will lead the crowd in pledge. America the Beautiful will be sung by a 10-year-old student with ANT Kids Foundation, an organization that provides music lessons for children in foster care and the system with DFCS, Blackstock said.

“We believe that is going to be an appropriate and breathtaking way to start the Empty Bowl Lunch,” she said.

Tickets to the luncheon are priced at a $30 donation, which will allow the food bank to provide 150 meals; For tickets and to learn more about how to get involved, visit GMFB online.