Students raised money for the Northfield Community Action Center’s food shelf while enjoying warm soup served in hand-made bowls at the 9th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser last Friday. With a suggested donation of $15, students received bowls filled with soup made by Carleton students and a side of bread.
The idea of Empty Bowls was started in 1991 by John Hartom and his high school students in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Since then, it is held nationwide and in at least 14 countries.
Besides raising funds for hunger-relief organizations, Empty Bowls also serves as a tangible reminder of the issues surrounding worldwide hunger.
Empty Bowls has been a part of Carleton’s community since 2005. In its first year alone, the event raised $741. Since then, the event has brought in thousands of dollars annually, for a total of $38,479 in the eight years it has been on Carleton’s campus.
Carleton Professor of Art Kelly Connole started Empty Bowls at Carleton when she came to campus in 2004. She began by selling bowls at the 2005 Spring Concert; soup was added the following year and the venue was changed to the Bald Spot.
Students in Connole’s Advanced Ceramics and Figure in Clay classes helped make over 600 bowls for the fundraiser. Since 2007, it has made around 5,000 to 6,000 dollars each year. This year’s Empty Bowls raised $5,931.
This year is the first time it has ever rained during the event. However, the rain did not dampen the spirit of those involved. As Maria Lesser, German language associate noted, “I was also impressed that the volunteers did not cry about the weather but just smiled the rain away.” It did, however, affect the fundraiser’s social aspects. Instead of hanging around the bald spot, students dashed off to somewhere dry to eat.
“I am endlessly thankful that Carleton supports this event with such generosity,” said Professor Connole who is grateful for the support of the Art and Art History Department and the CCCE to make Empty Bowls possible for the past 9 years. She also offers thanks to those “who have donated bread, soup, and passion to the cause.”
Previously, volunteers at the Northfield Community Action Center have also expressed their gratitude for the fundraiser. “Obviously, any event that raises money for the food shelter is helpful, but Empty Bowls especially so,” said Stephanie Helkenn, who works at the North- field Community Action Center. “We can purchase so much food with that money.” She added that many students and Northfield residents do not realize the extent of homelessness and hunger insecurity in Northfield.
“There is a significant homeless population [in Northfield],” she said. “There are people who couch hop because they have nowhere to live. It’s nice weather, so you’ll find a lot of them camping right now.” Many of these people depend on the Community Action Center’s Food Shelf program, which serves up to 500 families a month, a total of almost 1,600 individuals.
“A large number of people utilize our services here,” she said. “In a town as small as Northfield, it’s a good chunk of the population. There is a definite homeless issue here, but it’s hidden.”