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In this March 28, 2018, file photo, patrons choose bowls at the Lompoc Empty Bowls fundraiser. This year's event will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, at the Dick DeWees Community and Senior Center.

Soups and stews are set to once again take over the Dick DeWees Community and Senior Center this week with the return of the Lompoc Empty Bowls fundraiser.

The 15th annual event, which benefits the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, at the facility at 1120 W. Ocean Ave. For a donation of $25, attendees will be able to select a unique ceramic bowl, enjoy a simple meal of gourmet soup and bread and take the bowl home as a reminder of the meal’s purpose: to provide food to hungry people in the Lompoc community.

The money raised at Lompoc Empty Bowls is used by the Foodbank to address hunger in Lompoc with healthy groceries and fresh produce, along with nutrition education and programs, the organization said. Lompoc is considered a “high-need community for food insecurity” by the Foodbank, which reported that 50 percent of the city’s residents participated in Foodbank programs last year and that 21,518 people received nearly 1.5 million pounds of food.

“In all, 16 percent of the Foodbank’s total food distributed in 2018 went to residents of Lompoc,” read a portion of a statement released by the Foodbank. “Additionally, during the recent partial shutdown of the federal government (from Dec. 22, 2018, through Jan. 25, 2019), 17,645 pounds of food was distributed in Lompoc alone to 300 families comprising a total of 1,150 individuals. The Lompoc food distribution was the most heavily attended of the Foodbank’s three distribution programs, serving employees of the federal correctional facility and those employed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, including NASA, JPL and other contractors.”

A wide variety of soups, including vegetarian and vegan options, is slated to be available at this year’s Empty Bowls event. Among the scheduled soup donors are American Host, Alfie’s Fish & Chips, Mi Amore, Sissy’s Uptown Café, Tom’s Burgers, Wild West Pizza, Solvang Brewing Co., Cajun Kitchen, Valle Fresh, Lompoc Valley Medical Center and Hancock College’s culinary program.

Bowls and soups will be replenished throughout the event to ensure that all attendees have ample choices of both, according to organizers.

In addition to the gourmet soups, artistic bowls and community togetherness, attendees will also be able to purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win a variety of prizes donated by local businesses and a quilt handmade by Arlene Cheetham expressly for Lompoc Empty Bowls.

General raffle tickets are $5 for six tickets or $20 for 25 tickets; premier and quilt raffle tickets are $5 each.

Tickets for admission are available online at www.foodbanksbc.org/events or by calling 805-937-3422, ext. 104. Tickets will be available at the door, while supplies last.

For more information, contact Laurel Alcantar, a Foodbank development manager, at the above number.

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Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.

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