Imagine 842 million empty bowls, representing the 12 percent of the global population suffering from chronic hunger in a world that produces enough food to feed humanity several times over.
Laid out on a perimeter of tables in what was referred to as “the bowl room,” the 1050 bowls hand-crafted for Wittenberg’s 20th annual Empty Bowls event served as reminders to share the surplus of food we have that many at home and abroad do not.
Overflowed parking and a line extending from the CDR to the bookstore last Thursday night made it obvious that the Empty Bowls dinner was a community event, comprised largely of local families, students, alumni, and even professors.
Department of Art Chair Scott Dooley has been the coordinator for Empty Bowls at Wittenberg since 2000. He said, “I was involved in other Empty Bowls events before coming to Wittenberg University and am thankful that the university has been so supportive of our efforts to grow the event here.”
And grown the event has. The 1050 bowls made this year is more than has ever been made here previously, and Dooley added that they were “all made and fired in the ceramics area at Wittenberg.” Students, faculty, staff, and local potters met on campus for several “Spinning Saturdays” where the bowls were created.
Each bowl ran for $15, including all-you-can-eat soup and salad donated from companies such as Sodexo, Bob Evans, and Dole. According to Dooley, that “$15 provides 60 meals,” and “we have raised enough money to provide over one million meals through the Second Harvest Food Bank during the 20 years of the event.” The Second Harvest Food Bank receives 100 percent of the proceeds from Empty Bowls.
James Dumstorf, a junior art and psychology double major, was the student coordinator for the event. Dumstorf has been throwing for Empty Bowls since his freshman year, and threw over 100 bowls for this year’s event.
As the student coordinator, Dumstorf stated “Being a student coordinator involved going to monthly meetings at Second Harvest Food Bank and giving updates, making bowls, sending out posters, and on the day of the event, organizing volunteers to specific jobs and switching them around when need be.”
The role comes with an additional perk; the student coordinator “is one of the most popular [student] service opportunities because of it’s heavy involvement throughout the year in Empty Bowls and the ability to use art as a tool to help people,” Dumstorf added, on the way to completing his service requirement.
Senior Hannah Fournier also contributed to the event’s success having designed the graphic on the Empty Bowls posters and T-shirts, and a fact sheet about the event’s history made available patrons.
Dumstorf reported that nearly all of the bowls sold out; with only 50 left over, $15000 was brought it through bowl sales. Sponsorship donations were also at their highest with $31000 given. A final total is not yet available “because we haven’t taken out for things like the cost of clay yet,” Dumstorf explained. If their goal of earning over $42000 is met, over $300,000 will have been generated over the past 20 years of Empty Bowls, providing over 1.2 million meals for those in need.