The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

September 27, 2013

Empty Bowls Project sponsors third soup luncheon

By Kim West

— The Empty Bowls Project raised nearly $2,500 for the Athens-Limestone County Family Resource Center as area students and ministries donated more than 200 handcrafted bowls to be given away during Thursday’s communitywide soup luncheon at Friendship United Methodist Church.

“All proceeds go to the FRC,” said Lauren Hart, an Empty Bowls volunteer. “We also have a silent auction, with local artists donating items to be bid on during lunch. Local artists also created the bowls that get to be taken home by people who purchased a ticket.”

Classic soup bowls, shiny candy dishes and gourds in metallic or earthen tones covered long tables. Decorative bowls featuring a variety of student designs, including a zebra-print pattern, messages of love and peace signs, awaited patrons as they picked up the dishes and closely examined their patterns and textures.

The silent auction featured several paintings, plus a dulcimer crafted by Paul Pyle, a lustrous blue serving platter made by Jaina Anderson and a burnt-red ceramic urn from Athens potter Alissa Rose-Clark.

Symbol of hunger

Crackers or breadsticks accompanied the simple meal of soup and water to symbolize the need for hunger assistance, said Rose-Clark, who is among a group of Empty Bowl organizers that plan to grow the event.

Friendship Pastor Tony Johnson led the pre-meal blessing by asking that the event launch “a domino effect of awareness.”

“This is really a community event, with everyone having the same goal of wanting to feed people and help people in need,” Rose-Clark said. “This is about awareness because it’s easy not to think about people going hungry when you’re putting a spoon in your mouth. You don’t think about it because you don’t always see the need in Limestone County.

“But the need is there, with people trying to hide it because they don’t’ want anyone to know. A lot of times the people going hungry are children, the elderly or those with mental illnesses. We’re just trying to show that there is a need in our community.”

Artist Lisa Milby of Athens was among the more than 100 ticket-buyers to the luncheon. She echoed Rose-Clark’s call to confront local hunger issues.

“I think this is a great community outreach because it’s making our community aware of needs you wouldn’t think of in Athens, Alabama. This serves as a reminder to look closer,” Milby said.

Project background

Empty Bowls is a grassroots effort by community volunteers and church groups to address food insecurity and hunger within the county, with two previous fundraisers held in 2010 and 2011.

The FRC is an Athens-based nonprofit that provides resources and social services to families in the city and county.

“We really appreciate everyone’s support for the Empty Bowls event and the Family Resource Center,” said Amber Anderson, a client services and program director for the FRC.

More than 30 area businesses and individuals donated food, serving items or pieces of artwork to this year’s event.