This year, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC commemorates its 40th year of service, and their team is celebrating the people and organizations that have made their mission possible. Many have storied histories and continue to support the Food Bank’s work to build a healthy, hunger-free community for everyone. TW Garner Food Company is one such organization. The histories of the respective organizations have been intertwined from Second Harvest’s early days and includes TW Garner’s annual presenting sponsorship of Second Harvest’s signature event – Empty Bowls. This year marks the 21st year for the event, which provides essential support for the Food Bank.
Ann Garner Riddle, President and CEO of TW Garner Food Company, describes the partnership in this way: “We’re in the food business, and we understand the power good food has in helping people live better lives. Serving Second Harvest Food Bank is such a huge part of our identity, and this program is near and dear to our corporate and individual hearts.
The participation in Empty Bowls by so many talented individuals – those who provide food from Second Harvest’s Providence kitchen and those in our arts community who create bowls – has shown how generous and engaged our community can be.”
Gone but not forgotten: The legacy of Reg Garner, former President and CEO of TW Garner Foods and former Second Harvest Board Chair, lives on at Second Harvest. Sarah Deal, retired Second Harvest team member and awesome human, stands alongside Reg in this photo taken at one of the early Empty Bowls events.
Reflecting on the longstanding relationship with Second Harvest, Garner Riddle shared that TW Garner has donated through its benevolence program since the inception of the regional Second Harvest Food Bank organization. “We’ve also served on the board of directors. My brother, Reg, former Garner Foods President and Second Harvest Board Chair, helped the leadership get started and supported them as they organized the programs. I’ve been on the board of directors since 2010 and will assume the role of board chair in July 2022. I am looking forward to helping this team of leaders meet their goals and grow these important programs that help so many in the community.”
The Second Harvest team is hard at work preparing for the April 27th event, soliciting handcrafted bowls from artisans across its service area who, year after year, answer the call to contribute their talents to this community event. Second Harvest is especially grateful to the Sawtooth Center for Visual Art and their ceramics students for providing thousands of bowls through the years.
This fall, the Second Harvest team will move to its new headquarters in Winston Salem’s Whitaker Park. When asked about this new space, Garner Riddle remarked, “This location will bring all of the Food Bank’s Winston-Salem-based operations under the same roof. It’s going to be a welcoming place that will do so much good for our neighbors.”
Eric Aft, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank, echoed that sentiment, “From the outset, we expressed to the community that the move to the new headquarters would be much more than a new building. We will fulfill this commitment by enhancing our most effective strategies and implementing new approaches to impact hunger and its root causes in our region.”
Ann Garner Riddle, President and CEO, of TW Garner Food Company and Second Harvest Board Vice Chair checks out the bowls.
Since its inception in 2001, Empty Bowls has brought awareness to the magnitude of local food insecurity to the community and provided an opportunity for people to be part of the solution to persistent food insecurity. In the 18-county area served by Second Harvest, 1 in 6 people struggle with food insecurity. Children go to bed hungry and far too many seniors face difficult choices between buying food or paying for other basic needs.
According to Aft, “TW Garner Food Company and Food Lion (co-presenting sponsors) are committed to creating communities where every child, every senior, and every person succeeds. They understand that food is the foundation of this success, so supporting Empty Bowls is a tremendous investment in this work while also inspiring others to make a difference.”
Last year Second Harvest made the decision to pivot to a drive thru format for the event. The new approach proved to be a huge success, and the team will continue with this format for this year’s event.
“We are thankful for our presenting sponsors and all who make this event possible,” said Reedy Mensh, Events Manager for Second Harvest. “It takes a lot of people coming together to bring this well-loved community event to life, and we value and appreciate each and every one.”
Empty Bowls tickets can be purchased online (only) and are on sale now. Your ticket includes delicious soup, fresh-baked bread, and homemade cookies for two, delivered to you in the comfort of your car by the Empty Bowls drive thru volunteer team. Two beautifully handcrafted pottery bowls are included with each ticket purchase, and depending on the ticket level package, fabulous wines are an option too.
This year’s Empty Bowls Chair is Brooke Eagle, Publisher of Forsyth Woman. Keela Johnson, Founder, Forsyth Magazines, and Robin Bralley, Publisher, Forsyth Family, are serving as honorary chairs. Brooke passionately stated, “I love the mission of Second Harvest Food Bank. I have attended Empty Bowls for many years, so it’s an honor to serve as chair!”
Tickets sell fast to this highly anticipated annual event. Get yours by visiting EmptyBowlsNC.org.