Community Meal to Benefit Food Pantries

Like a fertile seed that grows into a bountiful harvest, good ideas blossom and spread when they are tended by people with enthusiasm and compassion. The Empty Bowls project is one of these ideas. Begun in 1990 as a way to raise money for the hungry while raising awareness about the issue of hunger, Empty Bowls is now an international movement.

An Empty Bowls fundraiser to benefit Talbot County food pantries will take place on Sunday, March 8 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Easton. During the meal, a representative from a local food pantry will talk about how these social service organizations serve the community and the increasing need they are seeing for food and other services.

The Talbot County Empty Bowls event is modeled after the first fundraiser, which was the brainchild of John Hartom, a North Carolina high school art teacher. In 1990, Hartom challenged his art students to make enough ceramic bowls to host a meal for the school faculty. During the meal, Hartom and his wife, Lisa Blackburn, also an art educator, reminded the group that, even though they were not hungry because they had just eaten, many in the community still had empty bowls. The guests were invited to keep their soup bowls as a reminder of those less fortunate. This event evolved into the non-profit organization Empty Bowls, which now raises millions of dollars for hunger-related causes around the world.

“Bringing Empty Bowls to Talbot County is an opportunity for those of us who are fortunate enough to eat without worry to reach out to our neighbors for whom a meal may be a luxury,” says event organizer Anna Harding. “By joining us for a community meal, you will help fill the shelves at local food pantries.”

Tickets for the Empty Bowls meal are $20. Harding continues, “In exchange for your payment, you will receive a meal of home-cooked soup and the bowl in which it is served. All the bowls are being made and donated by local potters. Our hope is that the bowl you take home will remind you that someone else’s bowl is always empty and that you will be moved to continue to support those organizations who are working every day to feed those in need in throughout Talbot County.”

Like the first Empty Bowls event, the Talbot County Empty Bowls combines the arts and philanthropy. The local potters who have pledged 100 handmade bowls are Paul Aspell, Forrest and Martha Bogan, Maureen Burns-Bowie, Christy Edwards, Liz Fisher, Paulette Florio Eileen Hebert, Jan Johnson, Jan Kirsh, Ann Krestensen, Catherine Lynch, Amanda Pellerin, Ken Sadler, Susanne Scott and John Scott.

Volunteers helping Harding organize the event are Walt and Jane Johnson, Aprille McKee-Wright, Linda Mastro, Lori Wadsworth, Lee Nelson, Lainie Wrightson and Leslie Hamburger. “Every penny we raise will be donated to local food pantries, thanks to the generosity of the people who are helping us launch Empty Bowls in our community,” says Harding. The group has procured donations of pots of soup and home baked cookies from members of the community. Panera Bread is donating bread for the meal.

The Clay Bakers in Easton is supporting the event by sponsoring a special bowl decorating event through February 25. For a $10 donation, Clay Bakers’ customers can choose a bowl and paint it in their own style. Clay Bakers will donate the bowl and $5 of the fee to Empty Bowls. The Clay Bakers is located at 1 S. Washington Street in Easton. For more information, call 410- 770-9091.

The Empty Bowls meal and fundraiser will be held on Sunday, March 8, 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church Easton (on the westbound lane of Rt. 50, west of the Maryland State Police barrack). In the event of inclement weather, the event will be held on Sunday, March 15. Advance reservations for this limited seating meal are required. To reserve your place at the Empty Bowls dinner table, mail a check for $20 per person to the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, 102 E. Dover Street, Easton, MD 21601. Make checks payable to Mid-Shore/Empty Bowls. Please include your phone number. For information about ticket availability, call Jane Johnson at 410-820-5115 or Lori Wadsworth at 410-463-0027.