‘Empty Bowls’ events help fill food pantry shelves

The concept of “Empty Bowls” is simple and beautiful — ceramic artists create beautiful soup bowls; people gather as a community to buy the bowls, fill them with soup and enjoy a meal together; the proceeds go to local food pantries and programs.

It’s an international effort and a community labor of love.

In my city, the Syracuse University ceramics program has teamed with artists from Clayscapes Pottery, the Interreligious Food Consortium and local restaurants to host Empty Bowls the past several years. The next event is Friday, Sept. 27, in Syracuse’s Armory Square.

Some of 'Empty Bowls' I've collected over the years at the fundraiser.

Some of the beautiful bowls I’ve collected over the years at ‘Empty Bowls’ fundraisers.

The collaborative effort has raised thousands of dollars to help feed families in Central New York, and has provided elegant, functional art that buyers can enjoy many times over. (Details about the Syracuse fundraiser and other Empty Bowls events are here.)

I’ve gone to several Empty Bowls events and enjoyed the soup and bread (donated by local restaurants) and the fellowship, knowing that it’s the proverbial “good cause.”

I keep half a dozen bowls in a cupboard, out of harm’s way, because they truly are works of art. 

But the bowls are supposed to serve another purpose — a significant one that I admit I’ve lost track of along the way.

According to Empty Bowls organizers, “guests are asked to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world.”

So from now on I’m keeping at least one empty bowl on my kitchen table — in plain sight and not tucked away in a cupboard — to remind me of the emptiness many people face every day.


About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
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