Empty Bowls

The idea for Empty Bowls is simple: Participants create ceramic bowls and organize an event to serve a meal of soup and bread. Guests choose a bowl to use that day and to keep as a reminder that there are always empty bowls in the world.

In exchange for a bowl and meal, the guest gives a minimum donation of $20. The sponsor chooses a local hunger fighting organization to receive the money collected. Unfortunately, the 26th and 27th annual Wittenberg Empty Bowls events (scheduled for 2020 and 2021) were canceled due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, online sales of bowls in exchange for contributions to the Second Harvest Food Bank took place.

Empty Bowls returned in 2022 in a modified format, and in 2023 it was back to normal! Same goes for our 2024 event, which is scheduled to take place on April 4.

2024 Details: Wittenberg's 30th Empty Bowls Event is scheduled for 4:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4 in the Center Dining Room (CDR) in the Benham-Pence Student Center.

Wittenberg students, staff, faculty, and community members have thrown, glazed, and fired approximately 1000 bowls, with about 90% of these made on Empty Bowls Throwing Days on Saturday/Sunday afternoons throughout the school year. The Second Harvest Food Bank has lined up sponsors to donate food (Parkhurst and several restaurants from town have donated soup and bread).

Patrons will choose a bowl to purchase ($20 each), enjoy a soup dinner and conversation with fellow community members. Patrons take the bowl home with them as a reminder that there are many people in our community that are hungry. All of the money goes to the Second Harvest Food Bank to help address food insecurity in Springfield and Clark County. Wittenberg raised more than $41,000 in 2023 and had a record high of $50,187 in 2019. Our goal for the 2024 event is to raise more than $50,000. What a way to celebrate 30 years of Empty Bowls at Wittenberg!

We will also have Empty Bowls t-shirts for sale, designed by alumna Sarah Baker.  We have sold out of bowls in the past, so if you want the best selection and the assurance that you will get a bowl, plan to come early.  If we sell out of bowls again this year, we will still offer dinner to patrons at a reduced cost.

This is truly a community event that brings many people from Springfield to campus and is a major fundraising event for the Second Harvest Food Bank. Join us and help fight food insecurity. Please pass this information on to any community groups, churches or other area organizations who might be interested in spreading the word and attending/sponsoring the event. I have attached sponsorship information from Second Harvest. If you have questions, contact Scott Dooley, Professor of Art at (937) 327-6327 or sdooley@wittenberg.edu.

Empty Bowls 2023

About Empty Bowls

In 1990, John Hartom, a high school art teacher in Michigan, helped his students find a way to raise funds to support a local food drive. What evolved was a class project to make ceramic bowls for a fund-raising meal. Guests were served a simple meal of soup and bread and were invited to keep the bowl as a reminder of hunger in the world. By the following year, the originators had developed this concept into Empty Bowls, a project to provide support for food banks, soup kitchens and other organizations that fight hunger. The Imagine/RENDER Group, a 501(c)3 organization, was created to promote the project. Since then Empty Bowls events have been held throughout the world and millions of dollars have been raised to combat hunger.

Wittenberg University's Art Department hosted its first Empty Bowls event in 1994. Kate (Duman) Runyon, a ceramics major, took the initiative to get the project started. The event has grown from approximately 100 to 1000 bowls a year since then. All of the bowls are made by Wittenberg University students, staff, faculty and area potters. The food is donated by local distributors and prepared by Parkhurst Dining, the Wittenberg dining service. Art students also design and sell Wittenberg Empty Bowls t-shirts, which add to the earned income for the event. A committee organized by Catholic Social Services solicits sponsorships from area businesses and citizens.

The Second Harvest Food Bank in Springfield, a program run by Catholic Charities, receives 100% of the funds raised. Since 1994, Wittenberg Empty Bowls has earned more than $500,000 for the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Wittenberg's Empty Bowls challenges students to look for opportunities to help create social capital through their artwork. The event draws a wide cross-section of patrons from the Springfield community as well people from outside of Springfield.

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