‘Empty Bowls’ fundraiser to help end world hunger

By Allie Jeppson

Aggie BluePrint contributor

In a developed nation such as ours, where food is overflowing, hunger is a problem that is often overlooked. In an effort to raise awareness of this issue, the USU Ceramics Guild, College of Natural Resources and Catering Services have teamed up to host USU’s first Empty Bowls event.

The event will be held on March 29 in the natural resources atrium from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Empty bowls is a project practiced all over the world in which handcrafted bowls, made by craftspeople, educators and the community, are given to people along with a lunch of soup and bread in exchange for a cash donation of $8 to $10, the Empty Bowls website states.

The idea is that when people pick out their bowl, take it home and use it in the future, they’ll remember the difference their donation made, said Megan Schwender, wildland resources graduate student and event planner.

“Students don’t have a whole lot of extra time and money,” Schwender said. “However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have a desire to contribute to the community. So this is a way for people to feel connected to our cause.”

About 250 bowls will be available, with clay donated through the College of Natural Resources dean’s office and crafted by USU students of the ceramics guild, Schwender said.

Joshua Kuensting, a graduate student at USU working on an MFA in ceramics and member of the ceramics guild, has participated in making a large number of the bowls.

“It’s always important to be made aware of the community,” Kuensting said. “This is a way for people to have a physical reminder, after the event, (that) there are people who don’t have as much as I do.”

Students who donate money for this cause will have more than just a bowl as a reminder of their service, though. All proceeds earned at the Empty Bowls event will go towards a new building for the Cache Community Food Pantry.

“Nobody raises money better than students,” food pantry director Matthew Whitaker said. “They have a knack for it and do a good job. It’ll help to raise awareness.”

The food pantry, established in 1970, currently serves 480 families per month from an old warehouse built in 1952, according to the Cache food pantry website.

At 4,500 square feet, the growing pantry lacks sufficient space and resources to effectively serve families in need, Whitaker said.

“It’s served us well,” Whitaker said. “But we’re going to double the capacity. It’ll be a building that’s designed for food storage distribution, completely 100 percent meant for the purpose that we’re here for.”

The building, now located on 359 S. Main St., will be replaced with a new 9,000-square-foot building that will provide increased storage space, energy efficiency, improved inventory management and sponsor workshops on finance, nutrition and meal preparation, according to the organization’s website.

Though funds raised through the Empty Bowls project won’t cover the entire $850,000 cost of the new building, any amount of money will help, Schwender said.

“We’re not going to make a huge contribution,” Schwender said. “But it will be a small dent in what they need.”

Whitaker agreed.

“I have a lot of faith in what the students do,” Whitaker said. “Any monies raised will really strengthen the show of local monies.”

Students aren’t the only ones showing support either. A number of local businesses are contributing by sponsoring the event.

Companies such as Caffé Ibis, Crumb Brothers Artisan Bread, Firehouse Pizzeria and Jack’s Wood-Fired Oven, among others, are included as event sponsors.

By bringing attention to an ever-increasing issue, the College of Natural Resources, USU Ceramics Guild and Cache Community Food Pantry hope to fulfill the food pantry’s mission that no individual should go to bed hungry by making this event an annual one, Schwender said.

“I can’t see how it’s going to fail,” he said. “I really think that it’s going to be a huge success.”

Whitaker further encouraged students to get involved and volunteer.

“If nobody knows there’s a need, then they can’t solve it,” he said.


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