The soup line at last year’s Empty Bowls event. Wanda Moeller| El Defensor Chieftain

The 2020 Empty Bowls Gala and Soup Tasting for Socorro Storehouse is coming up next Wednesday, Jan. 22, at Bodega Burger Company from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The public is invited to sample, and vote for, their favorite local chef’s specialty soups. There will be live music and dancing, as well as a silent auction. In addition, ticket holders can choose and keep an empty bowl from the collection of donated bowls on display.

Proceeds from the event go to support Socorro Storehouse. The 501(c)3 non-profit organization is Socorro’s emergency food pantry “feeding the hungry of the community one box of food at a time.”

Executive Director, Melissa Ramsey leads a crew of 20+ volunteers who unload, box, and distribute approximately 8,000 lbs. each month. They provide food boxes to an average of 200 families per month … and the need continues to grow.

Founded in 2002, the Storehouse provides food and other necessities for an average of 50 to 55 families every week. “This is the norm but it can be as many as 72 or as few as 20,” Ramsey said. “But the average is 50 to 55.”

Besides needing volunteers to help with the distribution of food, the agency is also in need of donations, both in money and in food.

Socorro Storehouse also uses monetary donations to help purchase food at reduced prices from Roadrunner Food Bank Warehouse. “I still spend close to $1,000 a month on Roadrunner just to get food here,” she said. “We also go to John Brooks once a week and purchase $100 to $130 worth of fresh produce. It gets delivered on Wednesdays and then we give it out on Thursdays.”

The Storehouse also receives food donations directly from individuals in the community. Food donations may be dropped off at the Storehouse on Tuesdays through Fridays between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

The Storehouse relies on volunteers to unload trucks, stock shelves, pack food boxes and distribute the food each Thursday from noon to 2 p.m. Ramsey said between 10 and 14 people volunteer each week on Thursdays.

“If anyone wants to help out they can contact me,” Ramsey said. “Once a week or once a month, it doesn’t matter.”

Customarily, volunteers help unload trucks, put food on the shelves and pack boxes on Tuesdays. On Thursdays, they also pack boxes, call names and take tickets from clients and help bring the boxes to clients. Food boxes can also include toiletries, laundry soap and bath tissue, depending on the supply on hand.

Ramsey said the Storehouse received two grants last year which are used for its produce program. Those two grants were from The United Methodist Church of New Mexico Albuquerque District Missions Committee and the Rice Bowl grant through San Miguel Church and the Catholic Archdiocese of the Rio Grande Catholic Relief Services.

The agency also receives grants from the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande Poverty and Outreach Board and the Rotary Club of Socorro.

Area churches contribute regularly every month.

Tickets to the Empty Bowls fundraiser are $25 per person.