PHARR — More than 900 people, 35 local restaurants and 1,500 bowls filled the Pharr Events Center for the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley’s 14th annual Empty Bowls event, the nonprofit organization’s biggest fundraiser.

A silent auction was also held while attendees sampled food from the approximately 35 food vendors, an aspect of the annual event that quickly became one of its most popular attractions.

“I think every year it gets better,” Gabriela Nunnery, chair for the Empty Bowls Committee said. “This time we were very surprised about all of our VIP sponsors. Now it is half of the attendance, whereas before it was just a small section. Now everybody wants to be a part of it.”

Nunnery, who has been associated with Empty Bowls since 2014, expressed her appreciation for those in attendance.

“(The support) is very good for the food bank,” Nunnery said. “The help is definitely needed; it’s very welcome. We have a growing community, and we are able to help 64,000 families per week, with help from this (event).”

According to Philip Farias, manager of corporate engagements and events for Food Bank RGV, the event had already raised approximately $115,000 in sponsorships. Empty Bowls is the largest fundraiser for the food bank.

“We’re very, very thankful for the support from the community,” Farias said. “We hope that we can get more awareness of the hunger here in the Valley.”

Showing his support for the food bank was Agustin Lozano Jr. of Edinburg, who is the public relations manager at Bert Ogden and Fiesta Dealerships. He said that this was his fifth straight year attending the event.

“We’re all about helping,” Lozano said. “About a couple of years ago, somebody said that we’re in a third-world country. Well, they’re almost right because some of these colonias are unlivable. How in the world can contractors develop subdivisions where there are flooding zones? People need help.

“So this is one way that the food bank helps out the people who are hungry,” Lozano continued. “All I can tell them is congratulations, and continue with that effort. And, of course, Bert Ogden will be there because we’ve also helped with the flooding, distributing water, buying water like we have. I’m very proud to be a resident of the Rio Grande Valley. We’re growing, so I’m glad that this event will continue for many years to come.”

Food Bank RGV is getting ready to host the Food Bank RGV Golf Classic on Oct. 11. Earlier in the year, the food bank hosted the 2019 Farm Dinner, which featured a five-course meal prepared by Chef Larry Delgado of house. wine. & bistro. and SALT. That event raised over $35,000.

Anyone interested in donating to Food Bank RGV, or looking to get involved is encouraged to visit www.foodbankrgv.com, or call (956) 682-8101.