April 15, 2024

Food insecurity is an issue that most people on a college campus don’t need to worry about. It’s easy to complain about the CDR’s options on a Sunday evening, but it’s difficult to remember that there are many people who can’t reliably get anything to eat on a given day.

Empty Bowls has been an international project since 1990 to combat food insecurity and was brought to Wittenberg a few years later by the Catholic Charities Second Harvest Food Bank. On Thursday, March 14, Wittenberg hosted its 25th annual Empty Bowls in the CDR. Over the years the event has raised over $497,000, which goes to Second Harvest, located in downtown Springfield.

“The great thing is that it’s really a community event,” said Tyra Jackson, the Executive Director of Second Harvest. “Everyone sort of comes together.”

Wittenberg, Parkhurst and the Springfield community all worked together to run this event, and hundreds of students, faculty and community members lined up to see and enjoy the results.

The only requirement for those who want to attend the event and give to the charity is to buy a bowl, handmade by Wittenberg students, faculty and community members. Each bowl was $15, which in turn can provide 75 meals for those in need, according to the Empty Bowls pamphlet.

Wittenberg University hosts the 25th annual Empty Bowls on March 14, 2019. Empty Bowls raises money for food banks in the Springfield area. (Trent Sprague/The Wittenberg Torch)

Once the purchase is made, the bowl is cleaned and filled with a variety of delicious soups donated by restaurants. This year some of the options were White Chicken Chili from Parkhurst, Zuppa Toscana from Olive Garden, Kathy’s Famous Gumbo from Coppertop Restaurant and Austrian Cream from Jaguar Room. When their stomach was filled, the attendee could leave, taking the bowl with them.

Bowls are made during Throwing Days, held in the ceramics room in Koch Hall by a professor of Art, Scott Dooley.

“Everyone who knows how to throw can come and throw bowls and we just trim them and glaze them and push them through the process,” Dooley said.

Over the course of a year, or ten Throwing Days, 20 people created almost 1,000 bowls.

“I made about 50 to 70 [bowls], and I’m not even that good,” Spencer Laughman, ’19, said. He added that the number of people who came to the days varied from five to 10 people.

In addition, Midwest Academy, a high school nearby, helped in the creation process. Lauren Brady, ’10, a previous student coordinator for Empty Bowls, works at the school and reached out to help Wittenberg.

“They made 50 bowls and brought them over and helped with some volunteering,” said Dooley. “They’re thinking about trying to get their own Empty Bowls over there.”

Each bowl is unique, made by an individual with their own style. There are large bowls with wide brims that fold out, and there are small bowls with narrower brims. There are light, cream-covered bowls with delicate speckles and bowls with bold, dark paint streaks. It’s easy to get lost choosing the right bowl because they’re all beautiful. By the end of the event there remained only a fourth of the 1,000 bowls they had started out with, they will be stored by Dooley and used to kick off next year’s collection.

Last year the event raised $49,828, and Second Harvest hopes this year to hit their goal of $50,000. In addition to bowl sales, Jackson said there was a significant portion of the funds we raised through sponsorships.

“We actually entered the event with more money than we have previously with sponsorships. We entered the event with over $36,000,” Jackson said. This year the funds raised may have set a record for the Wittenberg Empty Bowls program.

“We’re very grateful for Wittenberg’s support, for Parkhurst’s work and the community’s support,” Jackson said. “Without the community we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. We have over 21,000 people in Clark County alone who are food insecure, and that the community can come together and do this, it makes a huge difference.”

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