Fighting Hunger Through Soup: An Empty Bowls Gathering in Oakland

Fighting Hunger Through Soup: An Empty Bowls Gathering in Oakland

Dana Velden
Sep 28, 2012

Are you familiar with the Empty Bowls Project? I wasn't either until my neighbors, both amateur potters, hosted one in the courtyard we share. The premise is simple: Potters donate their handmade bowls and people are invited to a gathering where for a donation they choose a bowl and are served some soup to fill it up with. They can sit down with others in their community, share in the soup and company, and then take their bowl home with them when they are done. The money raised is donated to an organization that fights hunger. In our case, the event had raised $3000 for the Oakland Food Bank. Here's a closer look at the occasion!

My neighbors organized the event beautifully. They contacted their fellow potters and arranged for donated bowls. They also got donations of wine and bread, and many of us contributed stews to the event. (We did half vegetarian and half meat-based stews. I did this Chickpea Curry.)

They borrowed and set up chairs and tables, created a washing-up area, got ice from our local pizzeria (Pizzoiolo, who also donated the bread). Every detail was covered.

What I appreciated about this event is that it benefitted people on so many levels. Of course, the most important beneficiary was the Oakland Food Bank which will take that $3000 and turn it into $9000 worth of food to feed hungry people in our community. But all the participants benefitted as well, and by more than just being able to take home a lovely handmade bowl. We got to gather together as a community, share in each other's company and get to know one another better. And the potters can have the satisfaction that their bowls have a good home.

Empty Bowls is an international grassroots organization, with events taking place all over the United States and in at least a dozen other countries as well. Their mission is to fight hunger and raise awareness around hunger and food insecurity. From their website:

The largest hunger-relief organization in the United States, Feeding America, reports that the nation's food banks could soon be overwhelmed by demand. Statistics show that 1 out of 8* Americans struggle with food insecurity every day. Millions of people have lost their jobs during the most recent recession and the number of food stamp recipients has increased dramatically. Your help is needed now more than ever.

* The Hunger America website now says 1 in 6.

→ For more information: Visit the Empty Bowls website which also has a calendar to help you locate an event in your area. If you don't see one, consider hosting one yourself. It was a lot of work, but absolutely worth it.

Related: Call to Service: Feed a Neighbor

(Images: Dana Velden)

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