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A Feast from Empty Bowls

Savory soup, uplifting music, and fervent speakers marked Berea’s annual Empty Bowls Project.

Photographs courtesy of CELTS

Berea College again celebrated Empty Bowls, the annual hunger awareness event. Following each year’s event, the funds are divided equally between Berea Community Food Bank, Friends of Paint Lick care of ANGELS Food Bank, and Crab Orchard Family Resource Center Family Connections FRC. Berea collected over $2,600 with Empty Bowls 2009, and distributed $878 to each Food Bank.

Students, faculty, and staff from a multitude of campus departments gathered to enjoy a variety of soups made by Berea students, as well as three inspiring musical performances. With a donation of ten dollars, students selected their own locally crafted ceramic bowl and dined from an assortment of homemade soups. Most of the bowls were crafted by students in the Ceramic Apprenticeship Program at the college. Musical performers included Breon Thomas, Sam Rosalina and Joshua Slaton, Mark “Dice City” Butler and Marcus “O-BliQ” Leslie. Speakers were food bank representatives Diana Messer of Crab Orchard Resource Center, Joe Brown of ANGEL Food Bank, and Jerry Workman of Berea Community Food Bank. The representatives discussed the history and initiative of Berea’s Empty Bowls Project, which began in 2004. Raffle prizes were distributed after the speakers and performers, as well as prizes for the student chefs of exceptional soup medleys.

The Empty Bowls Project is a national campaign event that began in a Michigan high school in 1990, when art students prepared a fund-raising meal to raise money to support a local food drive. The students and teacher created and donated a variety of ceramic bowls, which were sold with a simple meal of soup and bread. The bowls were to be kept by donors as a reminder of world hunger. The students named the event “Empty Bowls”, which blossomed into a widely practiced campaign to support food banks, soup kitchens, and other organizations for fighting hunger. Since its origination in 1990, Empty Bowls fundraisers have occurred internationally and have raised millions of dollars to battle hunger.

During the fall semester, Berea holds Hunger and Homelessness Week, preceded by the annual Hunger Hurts Food Drive. Both events are sponsored by CELTS (Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service). Debra Bullock, Student Coordinator for Empty Bowls, notes “The Hunger Hurts Food Drive takes an army of volunteers and community participation to collect food for the Berea Community Food Bank. For a week or so, we have volunteers take a route to drop off bags with information attached to explain this project. On the day of the event we congregate and head over to the food bank and we have food sorters, we have folks who date the food, and then we have folks who organize the food at the bank. We go pick up the bags (full of food we hope) and bring them back to the bank.”

Local hunger awareness events are just a few of many reoccurring projects channeled toward one of the Great Commitments of Berea College - “To serve the Appalachian region primarily through education but also by other appropriate services.”

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