By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Sep 21, 2022 at 10:02 AM

Empty Bowls, the popular autumn event which raises funds for hunger relief, will take place on Sunday, Oct. 9 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Deer District’s open air Beer Garden, 1133 N. Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.

For over 20 years, Empty Bowls has attracted support for its annual fundraiser, which raises funds through the sale of hand-crafted ceramic bowls and soups made by local restaurants. Between 1998 and 2021 the event was coordinated by Empty Bowls Milwaukee, a nonprofit group of volunteers.

However, beginning this year, the event will be run by Friedens Food Pantries, Milwaukee’s largest network of emergency food banks, which includes the Coggs Center, Despensa de la Paz, Hope House and Zion Rock.

In 2022, Empty Bowls attendees can choose from more than 1,200 one-of-a-kind bowls handmade by local artists along with soups served by venues including Cafe Corazon, Lazy Susan, Lisa McKaye Catering, Three Brothers, Tostada by Maranta, Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative. A special soup will also be available from Friedens, using staples from their food pantry.

Buy your bowls online now

Guests can purchase their bowls at the event. However, online pre-sales of bowls are also available now through Saturday, Oct. 8, allowing attendees to fast-track the registration line at the in-person event.  

New this year, on Friday, Oct. 7 the Hoan Bridge will be lit up in the shape of a bowl, a gesture which aims to “light the way” to the Empty Bowls Event on Oct. 9. All donations raised by the light show will go to support the event's fundraising goal.

Feed 10,000 people

The goal for this year’s event is to raise $50,000, every penny of which will assist in alleviating food insecurity in the Milwaukee community. That's enough funding to provide 10,000 individuals with over five days of free, nutritious groceries.

And the need for this support is great. 

Due to factors including supply chain disruptions, 40-year record high inflation and the disappearance of the federally funded hunger support offered during the height of the pandemic, Friedens has seen an increase in client volume of almost 50% in comparison to this time last year. 

The bowls are created and donated by 25+ local pottery schools and woodworker associations, including Cream City Clay, which donated over 600 bowls for the fundraiser. In addition to donations from artists and restaurants, support for the event comes from the event’s title sponsor AMCS Incorporated, sponsors and dedicated volunteers.

“Friedens is thrilled by the opportunity to host this fun, meaningful event,” said Sophia Torrijos, Executive Director, Friedens Food Pantries. "We invite the greater Milwaukee community to join us to make a difference for community members who are food-insecure. Not only will attendees leave with their own unique, beautiful bowl, but every time they use that bowl they will be reminded of the importance of making sure every community member’s bowl is full.”

More ways to support

In addition to attending the October 9 event, the community can support Friedens Empty Bowls through a virtual auction, which opens Thursday, Oct. 6 at 1 p.m. Bowls will also be available for purchase at Cream City Clay and Outpost Natural Foods from mid-October through the end of the year (or until sold out).

Interested in volunteering at the event? Contact Frieden’s volunteer manager at

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.