By Kathy L. Collins

For one in six people in our area, food insecurity (not knowing from where their next meal will come) is a very real problem. In an effort to highlight this problem and to raise funds to combat hunger, the Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) will hold its Third Annual Empty Bowls event on Saturday, February 7 from 12 Noon-2 p.m. at St. Andrews United Methodist Church, located at 3315 Bryan Rd. in Brandon.

The Third Annual Empty Bowls is presented by Publix Super Market Charities, Inc. and the Sosa Law Office, P.A.

ECHO provides emergency food and clothing assistance to residents living in a 15 zip code area of Eastern Hillsborough County. In 2014, Thonotosassa (33592) was added to ECHO’s service area.

Stacey Efaw, ECHO’s CEO said, “When individuals and families are faced with a financial emergency such as job loss, cut in pay, domestic issues or even a house fire, they often decide whether to buy food for their family or pay the bills. We believe that food is not a privilege and everyone has the right to wholesome and nutritious foods. For over 25 years, ECHO has been there to provide emergency care in the form of food and clothing assistance.”

In addition to providing much needed food and clothing assistance, ECHO offers a full array of educational programs and basic social services. In 2015, ECHO will offer Health Literacy Classes, Basic Financial Literacy Classes, a GED preparation class, a Back To Work Program and more.

The cost to attend the Third Annual Empty Bowls is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 17. Children under 5 are free to attend, and there is a family of four package for $25.

Attendees will have the opportunity to taste soups prepared by the area’s best restaurants and businesses. They will also receive a clay bowl hand crafted by area school children. The bowl is meant to represent hunger.

Sponsorships are available. Restaurants are also needed to prepare and serve the soup. For more information, contact Kathy Collins at or call ECHO at 685-0935. Visit for information on all upcoming events at ECHO.

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