Hunger is a problem thousands of people throughout the Erie region face every day.

The Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania strives to provide relief to those who struggle and Thursday night, they hoped to raise awareness by sharing a simple meal one many might take for granted.

Some 200 community members shared a bowl of soup and bread at the Second Harvest Food Bank warehouse. They said it’s to serve as a reminder for how many bowls aren’t filled.

It’s a harsh reality so many people face in need face, not knowing where that next meal will come from or when.

And with inflation tightening the budgets of countless families across the country, experts said money for food becomes one of the first things to be cut.

“Hunger is a symptom of poverty and there are so many people who are experiencing hunger but they don’t talk about it. There are so many people that are living paycheck to paycheck and yet we’re not even aware of that,” said Karen Seggi, CEO of the Second Harvest Food Bank of NWPA.

Thursday night, hundreds gathered at Second Harvest Food Bank for their Empty Bowls event, sharing a symbolic meal of soup and bread meant to be a reminder showing how many people have nothing to put in their bowls.

Seggi said it could be a family member, neighbor, co-worker, someone at school and so on. And adds the need in our area is tremendous.

“There are over 80,000 people who are food insecure and over 20 thousand of those people are children who have no control over their economic circumstances,” she said.

More than 400 bowls were hand-crafted and donated by high schools, universities, and businesses throughout the area. Guests were invited to take a bowl home with them to serve as a reminder of those in need.

One guest in attendance told us that she has quite an affinity for this cause and someday hopes to volunteer here herself.

“We have so much and we just take it for granted. This makes you realize that not everybody has it that good,” said Carol Weis, guest and potential volunteer. “We have to be on top of it because every night when we sit down with food on our plate, we have to open our hearts and realize how very very fortunate we are.”

Last year, the Second harvest food bank distributed 11 and a half million pounds of food to people in need in northwestern Pennsylvania.