More than 150 members of the campus and local community enjoyed a hearty meal for a good cause during the inaugural Empty Bowls fundraiser Tuesday in the North End Zone Facility.

The event was a fundraiser for the “Groceries to Graduate” scholarship program offered by the university’s Lion Co-op Center for Nutrition Security, said Dr. Andrea Cullers, associate professor of kinesiology and co-director of the co-op.

“We raised more than $3,000,” Cullers said. “For the first time we’ve held this event and not knowing what to expect, we are thrilled.”

For $20, those attending received a bowl created by the Department of Art and Design, soup, bread and dessert.

Soup was provided by The Bruncheonette, Club 609, Bookhouse Cinema, Webb City Farmer’s Market and Fresh Ideas, Missouri Southern’s food service provider. Bread was be provided by Gusano’s, while Granny Shaffer’s offered a selection of pies.

All of the soups provided were excellent, Cullers said, with the seafood bisque and game stew proving especially popular with diners.

Proceeds raised during the event will go toward a scholarship created to address food insecurity.

“The purpose of ‘Groceries to Graduate’ is to provide funding to junior and senior students at MSSU who have demonstrated financial need and are in good academic standing,” said Cullers. “The recipients receive $200 tokens that can be used to purchase produce, eggs, meat, bread and other items at the Webb City Farmer’s Market.”

“Last year we received grant funding to provide scholarships for close to 30 students, and we’re hoping to extend it to more students this year.”

Cullers credits Kinesiology Department interns Samantha Sweet and Kamryn Colburn, both senior health promotion and wellness majors, for their efforts in organizing the event – from contacting local restaurants to manning the table to collect payments.

She said she hopes to see the Empty Bowls fundraiser become an annual event.

“We’re hoping to develop a sustainable funding source for the scholarship program,” she said.

The Lion Co-op is located in the campus FEMA shelter, with a satellite location in Spiva Library. Opened in 2018, it serves students dealing with food insecurity. Donations from the campus community and other organizations have kept shelves stocked with food and toiletry items for those in need.