Empty Bowls – Over 25 Years of Fighting Hunger
On Saturday, November 4th, at 6 pm, Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op will host our 26th Empty Bowl Dinner to support our local Food Shelves – CVOEO and HOPE (find out more about them on the following pages). This will be a small community event, coordinated and attended mainly by very local folks. You may be surprised to know then, that all over the world, at around the same time, people will be gathering for just the same cause.
“Empty Bowls” is an international project to fight hunger, personalized by artists and arts organizations on a community level. It was founded by Lisa Blackburn and Art teacher John Hartom in 1990-91 when they joined a drive to raise charitable funds in his Michigan community. Hartom’s idea was to organize a charitable event to give artists and art students a way to make a personal difference. Hartom’s students made ceramic bowls in their high school art classes. The finished products were then used as individual serving pieces for a fund-raising meal of soup and bread. Contributing guests kept the empty bowl.
Today, hundreds of communities hold some version of an Empty Bowls event. Their efforts support food-related charities around the world and have raised millions of dollars to aid in the fight against hunger. Although the sponsors of the events may differ widely – from glass blowers to churches to Co-ops like ours, their goals remain the same:
- Raise as much money as possible to feed the world’s hungry people.
- Increase awareness of hunger and related issues. Through education, awareness, and action, concerned individuals can change human attitudes that allow hunger to exist.
- Advocate for arts education. Nurturing the creative process through the arts enhances the possibility of finding new solutions to old problems.
For 25 years, the Co-op has had the pleasure of collaborating with Middlebury Studio School (formerly, Frog Hollow) to help us pull off this event. Kathy Clarke has been particularly instrumental in coordinating dozens of local potters to create up to 80 bowls for us, each year. In addition, we have enjoyed the generosity of the Middlebury United Methodist Church, which has provided the venue for this event free of charge. In fact, virtually every aspect of our event is possible because of the generosity of local businesses, organizations, and individuals, from the local farms that provide soup ingredients to the local musicians that provide entertainment.
According to the U.S. Census, Current Population Survey, 1 in 9 Vermonters are dealing with food insecurity. This is a number well below the national average, but for 12% of our State’s population, the number is still too high. Please join us this year for our 26th Empty Bowl dinner and be a part of the effort to illuminate hunger in Addison County.