9:08 AM / Saturday June 6, 2020

15 Nov 2019

The PIHN 21th Annual Empty Bowl Dinner — an evening that celebrates pottery, fall soups, giving thanks, and community

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November 15, 2019 Category: Oasis Posted by:

With chilly weather, nothing satisfies like a bowl of hot soup! United Lutheran Seminary and Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network (PIHN) join together in hosting the 21st annual Empty Bowl Dinner on Wednesday November 20.

The event will be held in the Brossman Center-Benbow Hall at the Lutheran Theological Seminary located at 7301 Germantown Ave. Attendees are invited to attend one of three seatings: 4:00-5:30 pm, 5:30-7:00 pm, and 7:00-8:30 pm. 

The Empty Bowl Dinner, hosted by local personality, Mike McGrath of WHYY’s “You Bet Your Garden” is  the community’s signature, fun-filled, family friendly pre- Thanksgiving gathering. Diners can select a hand-crafted bowl by local clay artists and pottery students, and fill it with over 40 types of soups made and donated by local restaurants as well as breads and desserts made by local bakeries and volunteers. 

A highlight of the event is when a rebuilt car will be gifted at the dinner to a deserving PIHN family through the Recycled Rides Program. The car, a 2015 Chrysler 200 donated as a “totaled” vehicle by Geico insurance and restored by Service King auto body shops.

All proceeds from the event support PIHN’s mission to prevent and alleviate family homelessness by mobilizing resources and caring volunteers from congregations and community organizations. PHN seeks to promote lasting solutions to homelessness by raising awareness, creating a strong support network for families, and by supporting policies that address root causes of homelessness.  


After the meal, diners take home their empty bowl as a reminder that each day hundreds of families and over 1,000 children in Philadelphia go without a meal or a place to call home. Last year’s event drew over 1,200 diners and raised $40,000 to support the work of Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network.

“Our work during the past 28+ years demonstrates that when an entire community joins together congregations, schools, organizations, business owners, artists and community members, we really can make a difference in ending the horrific cycle of homelessness,”  Rachel Falkove, executive director of PIHN, said.  “We take great pride in the fact that 92% of the families we served succeeded in permanently overcoming homelessness, and many of the parents and their children have accomplished so much. They are college graduates, professionals, employees with full benefits, and homeowners. We are so honored that many of our PIHN alumni return as volunteers to help other families in their journey from homelessness to self-sufficiency.”

The annual Empty Bowl Dinner has been a popular event for the past 21 years.

“As a community that talks about justice for all and prays for an end to poverty and homelessness, we are honored and delighted that the Empty Bowl Dinner will take place on our Philadelphia campus. This provides us an opportunity to live out our core values, and we eagerly look forward to participating in this life-giving program,” the Rev. Dr. Richard Green,  interim president of United Lutheran Seminary, said.

Diners will find ample parking at United Lutheran Seminary. The cost of the event is $25 for adults, $10 for students and children. Sponsorships and other donations are welcome. 

Tickets may be purchased through the PIHN website at

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