Empty Bowls Fill Bellies and Hearts in Anderson County

By Allison Swanner, Art Teacher at Lake City Elementary School

Untitled2Lake City Elementary School has put a local twist on a national initiative. The National Empty Bowls Project uses handmade ceramic bowls and a soup dinner to raise money to fight hunger. In order to make an impact on the local community, our school adapted this project to fit our student and family population. Lake City Elementary is a Title I school in Anderson County with more than 75 percent of our 500 students considered economically disadvantaged. Most of our families are dealing with financial hardships, and our students are normally on the receiving end of giving. Because of these realities, it is not practical to ask our families to pay the typically suggested amount per person ($10-30) for a meal and ceramic bowl.

So, how do we still impart good values and teach our students the importance of giving to an issue that hits so close to home? We created an event that showcases our students’ individual artistic contributions and provides an inexpensive meal to feed the entire community. Our event was set up in two parts: the Empty Bowls Art Show and the Stone Soup Supper.

The Empty Bowl Art Show

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.03.28 PMAll students in kindergarten through fifth grade created a ceramic bowl in art class to donate to the Empty Bowls Art Show. This was the students’ personal contribution and their way of helping to raise money for our local Second Harvest Food Bank. The empty bowls were made to symbolize families without food and each bowl was available for purchase at a flat price of $5. Students were not asked to buy their bowl, but parents had the first opportunity to do so before it was made available to the community. Many students were excited to know their bowl was bought by someone from the community and that they sold their first piece of artwork. In addition to the art sale, we also held a contest with a panel who judged the fourth and fifth grade bowls and selected the top three designs.

Stone Soup Supper

4Empty Bowls focuses on the whole community coming together and giving, but we did not want to just raise money for Second Harvest Food Bank– we also want to provide the community with a hearty meal at a very low cost. During the evening, students read the story Stone Soup and discussed how the moral of the story related to our event. Students in each grade-level were also assigned a canned good or other food item to donate for our Stone Soup Supper. These efforts allowed us to provide a bowl of vegetable beef soup, bread, dessert, and a drink to all attendees for only $1 per person.

This year we held an assembly the following week where our Student Council President, Makenzie Walker, presented Second Harvest Food Bank with a $3,000 check. The Empty Bowls Event was a huge success and has started a new tradition for our community in Anderson County.