Foothills Empty Bowls Lunch & Art Auction.

Patrons choose the bowl from which they will eat spaghetti at Harold’s Cave Creek Corral during Foothills Empty Bowls Lunch & Art Auction.

The 2021 Foothills Empty Bowls Lunch & Art Auction is returning to Cave Creek, after pivoting to a virtual event during the pandemic.

The 22nd annual event is held in conjunction with World Hunger Day on Friday, Oct. 15, at Harold’s Cave Creek Corral from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Proceeds benefit Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center.

The auction began Sept. 7 on the Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center’s website, foothillsfoodbank.com, which is sponsored by Tech4Life Computers & Websites.

Individuals can bid on the art and purchase bowls created and donated by members and friends of the Sonoran Arts League, sponsor of the Empty Bowls Project. Guests can keep the bowls as a reminder of empty bowls throughout the world, throughout the year. Winners of the art auction can pick up their art pieces after 1 p.m. at Harold’s as well.

The art will be displayed at Harold’s, and Tech4Life Computers & Websites staff will be on hand to help folks with online bidding.

“We are excited to initially offer the art auction online so people can support this important cause and spend time bidding on their favorite works of art,” said Carole Perry, the event’s founder.

The key tenet of an Empty Bowls event is expenses cannot come out of the proceeds, but instead to a hunger-related charity. Fran Booth donates her skills as a publicist, while Harold’s offers the space and food for free.

“It’s had huge community involvement,” Perry said. “In good years, we’ve had 1,000 people. Last year, the whole thing was online. We couldn’t have an event at Harold’s.

“Last year, we offered gift certificates to get lunch at Harold’s the following week at no expense. We suggest a donation of $15, but we never turn anybody away. They still get lunch and a bowl. Up here, though, people write $1,000 checks and don’t even take a bowl.”

The food offered at Harold’s is spaghetti, garlic bread and water. Patrons are asked to bring a sports bottle to eliminate waste.

“The food has an educational component,” she said. “It’s the caloric equivalent of what you would get in a homeless shelter, or someplace where they’re handing out meals.”

Perry founded the event in 1997 and it supported the Empty Bowls event in Downtown Phoenix. It was there that Perry and her volunteers learned how the program works.

The Cave Creek event features artwork by the Sonoran Arts League.

“This Empty Bowls Art Auction has tapped into the generous spirit of dozens of renowned Sonoran Arts League artists,” Perry said. “We already have received numerous items, ranging from paintings to sculpture from all media. Many artists donated two or more pieces out of a selfless desire to ensure that the Foothills Food Bank has the resources it needs to help our neighbors in need.”

Perry said Christopher Heede and Virginia Brooks are two of the local artists contributing artwork to the fundraiser.

Bowls purchased in advance can be selected during the Empty Bowls lunch or guests can choose to pay for their bowls at the event. A pasta lunch, donated by Harold’s, will be served in the bowls and Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center provides emergency food, financial assistance and other life necessities and resources to individuals and families in the desert foothills, which encompasses a 180-square mile area that includes Black Canyon City, Mayer, Spring Valley, Cordes Lakes, Cave Creek, Carefree, Anthem, Desert Hills, New River, North Scottsdale, Rio Verde and North Phoenix.

The Sonoran Arts League is committed to advancing art and art education, with a special focus on mentoring youth with the belief that arts training helps develop the ability to focus and strengthens cognitive skills in young people. It offers Youth Art programs for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.