The Georgia Mountain Food Bank Friday afternoon hosted its annual Empty Bowl Luncheon, a community tradition to help address hunger, health and quality of life in Northeast Georgia.

With over 1,000 people in attendance from civic, corporate, non-profit and church organizations, the fundraiser aimed to spread awareness and contributions to those in need living in Hall, Dawson, Forsyth, Lumpkin and Union counties. Crowds arrived at the Ramsey Conference Center at Lanier Technical College to donate, purchase and bid on various art pieces and sports memorabilia.

“During this event, we have lunch, and then we do a live auction of bowls,” Interim Director Rebecca Thurman said. “This year, we have Trace Adkins, Lee Brice, our local high school football coach, Alton Brown … and a couple of Falcons players have signed bowls for us today. So this is to raise awareness and funds to help continue in our mission.”

Those bowls were live auctioned by North Georgia auctioneer Doug Carter, with many of them going for prices between $500 to $700.

Since 2008, the food bank has provided over 70 million meals to people living in their five-county coverage area, according to provided statistics. That includes over 6.2 million meals in fiscal year 2022 alone.

“At Georgia Mountain Food Bank, $1 equals five meals, so this event raises more than a million meals,” Thurman said.

Friday’s event saw three awards given out to food bank volunteers and organizations. The Phillip Bond Sartain Individual Volunteer of the Year award was given to Denny Allen.

“I was surprised because I just feel that I go in and I contribute what I’m supposed to contribute back to society,” Allen said. “I mean, I’ve been fortunate to be able to be blessed this much in my life, to be able to give back now and still have the physical abilities at my age.”

The James A. Walters Corporate Volunteer of the Year award was given to Scroggs & Grizzel Contracting, and the Mike Banks Reflections of the Heart recipient was Joy Banks Daly.

Lastly, the GMFB Agency of the Year award was given to The Place of Forsyth, which aims to serve the people of Forsyth and Dawson counties by providing essential needs and teaching citizens to be self-sustaining.

Based out of Gainesville, the GMFB partners with the Atlanta Community Food Bank organization to collect surplus food and grocery store products. Programs with GMFB provide assistance to families and individuals who need food due to job loss or low income.

A link to a video of the event by AccesWDUN can be seen here.


Christian Ashliman, Anchor/Reporter

Originally published by AccessWDUN

September 15, 2023, 5:00 PM

Photo by Christian Ashliman