Fighting Hunger with Bowls
With approximately 23 percent of the Pitt County population living in poverty, many organizations, such as ECU’s Campus Living and Dining and the Ceramics Guild, raise money or donate time and products.
Campus Living and Dining and the Ceramics Guild are hosting the second annual Empty Bowls Fundraiser today in Mendenhall Student Center. From 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., people can purchase a bowl for $15 made by the Ceramics Guild and take part in a soup kitchen atmosphere in the Great Rooms. The handmade bowls are a reminder of all of the empty bowls throughout the world.
“Empty Bowls is a grassroots effort to raise hunger awareness,” said Joyce Sealey, director of dining services. The fundraiser started in 1990 and is now led by The Imagine/RENDER organization, whose goal is to create lasting social change through arts, education and community projects.
Local businesses, such as The Scullery, Tipsy Teapot and Winslow’s, are donating all of the food and beverages that will be served. “La Benedicion Bakery, which is a place downtown, is donating the bread. Starbucks is donating iced tea and coffee, and the rest of the locations are doing different types of soups,” said Sealey.
Last year, approximately 30 bowls were sold in advance, but over 200 were sold during the two and a half hour event. “This year, we made about 200 bowls,” said Sara Kurtz, a junior art and Hispanic studies double major, who is the president of the Ceramics Guild. “I know they have some left over from last year too, so we’re just adding to the stock.”
There will be a variety of bowls available for purchase. “They’re all really different because we have so many different people participating and making the bowls and everyone has a different color palette that they like,” said Kurtz. “There’s some really earthy, crunchy brown-colored bowls and there’s also some really poppy bright yellow and bright red bowls.”
Being able to see how your efforts are appreciated was one perk for organizers. “It was really nice being able to watch people look at our bowls and pick them up and decide which one they wanted,” said Kurtz.
The inspiration for the fundraiser came from a faculty member. “Bill McCartney, who is the associate vice chancellor for Campus Living and Dining, did this back at one of his previous schools, and it was a really big event,” said Sealey. “He brought the idea here and we thought this would be pretty cool; something to raise awareness because there’s a lot of hunger in Eastern North Carolina.”
The Ceramics Guild also benefits from the fundraiser. “It’s a great opportunity for our guild to get together. We have a bowl party where we get together one day and just make bowls all day and hang out,” said Kurtz. “It’s a lot of fun for us because we get to actually have an event where we can spend time together.”
It’s also a great opportunity for the guild to practice the university’s motto of serving the community. “As art majors, we tend to stick to the art building and we’re kind of isolated and secluded, so we love being able to participate in the community with other organizations on campus,” said Kurtz.
Furthermore, the fundraiser educates people about the food bank. Last year, they showed a PowerPoint at the beginning of the event that had pictures of soup kitchens around North Carolina, as well as a food warehouse. “It was really interesting and educating,” said Kurtz. “We got to learn what happened behind the scenes and where our money, our contribution and our efforts were going to.”
All of the proceeds for the event will be given to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Mendenhall is providing parking in the lot outside of the student center for event-goers and tickets are available at the Central Ticket Office.
This writer can be contacted at email@example.com.