Empty Bowl Fundraiser » Northern Lakes Food Bank

In 1994 local artist Dave Lynas suggested the idea of Empty Bowl to the Duluth Art Institute.  At the same time, and only miles apart, Moira Johnson brought the idea to the Duluth Public Schools.  Collaboratively, the project came to life raising $9,400 in its first year as the region’s only combined arts and hunger event.

Empty Bowl, now in its 15th year, will be held Tuesday, March 31, 2009, from 10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. at the Depot’s Great Hall in Duluth – 506 W. Michigan Street.

As a fundraiser for Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank – and the region’s hungry – Empty Bowl depends on regional support for the creation handcrafted ceramic bowls, donated soup, bread, beverage, and supplies; and thousands of volunteer hours donated by the Duluth Lion’s club and other volunteers.
“I hear so many non-profits talk about their fundraisers and how they put in so much time and effort into them, yet yield very little,” stated Shaye Moris, the Food Bank’s executive director.  “Empty Bowl is an event that depends on people to help people.  If it weren’t for our volunteer committee, artists, students, community groups, restaurants, vendors, and volunteers, Empty Bowl would not happen.   We are so appreciative of the support we’ve received over the years - this is an event the community owns and should be proud of.”

A large delegation of artists and Empty Bowls come from the Duluth Art Institute which not only assisted in creating the event but continues to embrace it today.  “Participating in Empty Bowl is a wonderful way for the arts to help meet challenges of the community,” stated Samantha Gibb Roff, Executive Director of the Duluth Art Institute.  “The Duluth Art Institute’s ceramic’s studio and education program appreciate the opportunity to contribute in this way – bringing art to life.”

In 2008, over 39 restaurants, bakeries, and beverage vendors participated in Empty Bowl providing some of the best soups, fresh baked breads and beverages in our area.  Brian Daugherty, President of Grandma’s Restaurant Company, has participated in the Empty Bowl fundraiser for over 10 years. “Empty Bowl is an unbelievable collaboration of multiple groups coming together to give back to our community.  Each group shares their gifts and expertise, such as the artists making the bowls, and the restaurants providing their best recipes, to give back and strengthen our community.  Of course, Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank provides their best in coordinating and executing the event flawlessly so everyone in the area can enjoy the process and feel good about the outcome.”

Volunteer support and cash contributions (which offset the cost of bowl creation) are also an important part of Empty Bowl.  Since its beginning in 1994, the Duluth Lions and Lioness Club have provided both.  “The Duluth Lions have been involved in Empty Bowl since the beginning,” states Sandra Palmer, Duluth Lions Club vice-president.  “This event brings the entire community together in a common cause to help the Food Bank provide food to community members who need a helping hand during these bleak economic times.  With such a variety of volunteers, this event has become such a successful fundraiser; more than any one group could accomplish on their own.”  Each year, the Duluth Lions and Lioness’ Clubs collectively contribute over 140 hours of volunteer service at the Empty Bowl event.   In addition, they contribute $500 annually for clay and glazes which allow Duluth Public School children to create bowls.

Other volunteer hours include those donated by artists who create bowls, artists who teach others to create bowls, and individuals who serve on the volunteer committee and those that volunteer their time on event day.

Over the years extra effort has also been put into acquiring event sponsors like Super One Foods, Maurices, etc. who ensure that event proceeds don’t simply offset costs like bowl creation but are funded by outside community partners.  “The truly amazing thing is the number of people and volunteer hours that go into Empty Bowl,” stated Event Chair, Robyn Cadigan.  “The impact on our community would not be as great if we didn’t have this support.  Volunteers provide nearly 18,000 hours of time to this event, which is equivalent to 748 days!  That to me shows a real commitment to feeding those in need.”

Last year Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank raised a $60,675, which allowed it to distribute over 600,000 pounds of nationally and regionally rescued food to the area’s 140 non-profit charitable program sites including food shelves, soup kitchens, shelters, senior nutrition sites, youth programs (Kids Café, Boys & Girls Club), and homes for the mentally and physically disabled.

For more information contact the following:

Shaye Moris, Executive Director, Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank
(218) 727-5653, ext. 13

Robyn Cadigan, Board Chair & Event Chair, WDIO/WIRT-TV
(218) 279-7747

Samantha Gibb-Roff, Executive Director, Duluth Art Institute
(218) 733-7560

Brian Daugherty, President, Grandma’s Restaurant Corporation
(218) 727-2250

Sandy Palmer, 1st Vice President, Duluth Lions Club
(218) 728-4834

Dave Lynas, Artist, Duluth Art Institute
(218) 723-7110

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2 Responses to “Empty Bowl Fundraiser » Northern Lakes Food Bank”
  1. admin says:

    Empty Bowl is doing an online auction for great bowls, stoneware & glass to benefit Northern Lakes Food Bank. Go To Auction »

  2. Mark says:

    Thanks for putting this up. we’re hoping for a great turnout this year and we promise to have lots of beautiful pots and bowls of steaming delicious soup for all. Please come and support the Northern Lakes Food Bank.

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