Gainesville, Ga.— What do President Jimmy Carter, Zac Brown Band, Governor Nathan Deal, University of Georgia President Jere Morehead and Georgia Institute of Technology President Bud Peterson have in common? All have officially participated in painting or signing a “celebrity” bowl for one of Georgia Mountain Food Bank’s (GMFB’s) Empty Bowl luncheons.

“Our Empty Bowl luncheon is our only official fundraiser each year,” said Kay Blackstock, executive director at GMFB. “Everyone who attends our luncheon takes home a hand-painted pottery bowl donated by various members of the community to remind them of the empty bowls in our community.”

In 2013, the Empty Bowl committee decided to set apart showcase bowls painted by local celebrities for the live auction at the event. Over the past three years, the popularity of these bowls has increased and become a signature tradition of the event. Whether marked with a handprint, thumbprint or signature, all of these priceless bowls are hand painted either by the celebrity themselves or Georgia Mountain Food Bank’s Volunteer Coordinator Phil Dennis.

“And boy have our celebrity bowls been a success,” Blackstock said. “Last year alone, our celebrity bowls raised more than $14,000 for the Food Bank. That is more than 70,000 meals alone that came from the live auction. Each year our auction has gotten bigger and bigger and I am pleased to say this year is no exception. I am over the moon excited about the celebrities who have provided bowls, including our state’s very own President Jimmy Carter.”

The President Carter bowl is designed to honor the President and his lifetime of service. Signed by President Carter himself, the bowl pays tribute to him my memorializing three of his own quotes that represent his efforts as great peacekeeper and a humanitarian. The inside of the bowl features a depiction by Dennis, of the famous handshake between President Carter, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.

The proceeds from this bowl will be split between Georgia Mountain Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity of Hall County.

“I was happy to participate in this unique opportunity to help support Georgia Mountain Food Bank and Habitat For Humanity Hall County, organizations that engage and empower their citizens to create innovative and constructive solutions to addressing poverty – both causes and results,” President Carter said.

Under the artistic direction of Dennis, the event’s signature bowls come to life thoughtfully and masterfully – true masterpieces, and keepsake works of art. This year pieces for the live auction include:

New this year is the ability to bid online on GMFB’s new website that launched Thursday morning.

“The pre-bidding process is open to the public now on our website and will remain open until noon, Monday, Sept. 26,” Blackstock said. “We felt with the significance of many of our bowls this year, the ability for regional and even national participation was important.”

Georgia Mountain Food Bank’s Annual Empty Bowl Lunch is a community tradition and fundraiser to help address hunger, health and quality of life throughout GMFB’s five-county service area of Hall, Dawson, Forsyth, Lumpkin and Union counties. The lunch is a drop-in event and will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 27 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the First Baptist Church Banquet Hall on Green Street in Gainesville. The presentation will start at 11:45 a.m. and will include the live auction, community awards and special remarks by Sandra Deal, the first lady of Georgia. An assortment of soups will be served along with an assortment of salads and decadent desserts, all prepared and donated by Performance Food Service.

Tickets are available for a minimum donation of $25 each, and tables are available for a donation of $500. Every donation and ticket purchased helps the Food Bank’s cause. In fact, for every $25 ticket donation, GMFB can provide 125 meals to those in need.

The Empty Bowl Lunch is scheduled annually for the month of September because it also is Hunger Action Month – a time when all food banks across the nation encourage and challenge their communities to take action to fight hunger. Hunger is often invisible, and yet the fact remains that one in five Georgians is hungry and do not know where their next meal will come from. Often, those facing hunger are neighbors, friends and even relatives faced with tough decisions just to make ends meet.

For more information about the event, sponsorships or to purchase tickets, please contact Georgia Mountain Food Bank at (770) 534-4111 or email Kay Blackstock.