By Sean Cann-Sheppard 
BELLEVILLE – There was plenty to see and plenty to eat during this year’s Empty Bowls fundraiser at Loyalist College .
It’s also meant to give an opportunity to local businesses and entrepreneurs to showcase their products.
Culinary students and local restaurants cooked and prepared the food served during the event, and volunteers from QRFSS helped serve guests and clean up. According to Loyalist head chef John Schneeberger, there was also no shortage of student volunteers who were eager to help out.
“Each year, the amount of student volunteers and interest we have to help out in such a beneficial fundraiser is phenomenal,” Schneeberger said. “We didn’t have to pry anyone to attend, they wanted to be here.”
A few local businesses were at the event for the first time while others had been there previously. Newcomer Phil Mintz, who says he runs his own food company, says the event was successful in giving his products good exposure.
“That’s one of the reasons why I do this, so I can get my name out,” Mintz said.
Summer Johnson, another newcomer and a college student herself was selling homemade plush toys. She says she was garnering interest from guests who were coming by to look at her work.
“A lot of people are stopping and asking questions, it’s a very good atmosphere.” Johnson said.
However, it’s the promotion of food insecurity and the idea of supporting local food banks which remains important, Stirling Community Cupboard  and QRFSS member Heather Bailey said.
“It’s about promoting the idea that there are people with empty bowls out there,” she said. “It’s also promoting that there’s not just a food bank in Belleville, but all the other smaller communities as well.”
Schneeberger said the event is an excellent way to raise awareness of food insecurity.
“It’s not about poor people needing a hand, but it’s about helping people in our community,” he said.
Empty Bowls has been run by QRFSS for over nine years, and is based off a grassroots movement of the same name which started over 25 years ago in the United States and has since spread worldwide.