P O W E L L, W y o. - An empty bowl can mean a full stomach. That's what NWC Ceramics Instructor Elaine DeBuhr and her students are banking on Tuesday, Nov. 18, when they hold an Empty Bowl fund raiser for the Powell Valley Loaves and Fishes food bank.
DeBuhr and her students will serve a simple meal of soup and bread for $10 and ask guests to keep their empty bowl as a reminder of hunger in the world. The ceramic bowls were all hand thrown by NWC students.
The first come-first served meal will be dished up from 5:30-7 p.m. at Plaza Diane in downtown Powell. NWC ceramics students and Art Club members will serve a choice of two soups, including a vegetarian option, and fresh bread, all prepared by Aramark Food Services.
For some time DeBuhr had been looking for a project to involve her students in community service. A recent newspaper article about Empty Bowls, a nationwide effort to raise awareness of hunger, crystallized her plan.
"I was aware that food bank shelves around the country, including Powell, are overwhelmed due to the downturn in the economy," DeBuhr said, "so Loaves and Fishes was a natural choice."
DeBuhr's students in wheelthrowing classes have worked to make well over one hundred bowls for the crowd they're hoping to feed. A wide variety of different sizes, shapes, textures, and glazes will be available for guests to choose from. The functional pieces of artwork were each collaboratively created and bear no individual signatures.
"It is my hope that people will appreciate all of the bowls equally for their handmade qualities and for the project as a whole," DeBuhr said. "This project is a way for my students and the larger community to join hands in helping the hungry families right here at home."
The number of hungry families in Powell is increasing sharply, if the number who look to the Powell Valley Loaves and Fishes for help is any indication.
Julie Fulton, the PVLF's coordinator of volunteers, said the number of families her organization serves in one month almost doubled from 47 in September 2007 to 83 in September of this year.
"We have just two food drives every year," Fulton said. "The U.S. Postal Service collects nonperishables in May, and a variety of groups help us with the before-Halloween drive. The food collected during these two initiatives has previously kept our shelves stocked for the better part of a year, but it doesn't stretch that far anymore." With a downturned economy now contributing to the picture, the outlook for improving the PVLF's pantry deficits doesn't look promising.
"I think the Empty Bowls project is such a great idea," Fulton said. "I really applaud Elaine and her students for all their work to make this happen."