The Empty Bowls fundraiser is back after a year-long hiatus.
The fundraiser, which benefits Berea Food Bank and collaborates with Berea College’s Center for Excellence in Learning Service (CELTS), students, local potters, and restaurants, was canceled last year due to COVID-19 concerns.
This year, instead of the usual large gathering and event, the fundraiser has been split into multiple opportunities throughout the month for locals to give.
Every Friday in April, the Berea College Farm Store will be selling the handmade bowls and a lunch for $10.
Each purchase includes a lunch of soup and a slice of bread prepared by the farm store, and the locally-made ceramic bowls.
Employees at the farm store will select the bowls for customers, and quantities are limited to 50 bowls each week.
The Berea College Farm Store has created an online order form for those who wish to donate.
The form will be available each Monday, and donors can order an Empty Bowl lunch and schedule their pick-up time for Friday.
According to the farm store, Empty Bowls can be picked up from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. each Friday.
Sheila Lyons, the CELTS program associate, said they were happy to bring the fundraiser back this Spring, and the first round of bowls for this week have already sold out.
“We are just excited to be able to do this,” Lyons said. “Last year, school was dismissed just two weeks before the event, and we were forced to cancel. It might look a little different this year, but we were able to find a way to do it.”
Since the farm store must prepare the Empty Bowls' soup, Lyons said CELTS was grateful to the store for agreeing to participate.
“They are being very generous, they have to make all the soups themselves, so we will be able to sell 200 bowls this month. Typically, we sell over 270 at the in-person event, so it will be a little less than previous years, but every bowl makes a difference,” Lyons said.
Berea College students and local artisans have spent weeks making the bowls for the fundraiser.
Local ceramist, Jonathan Dazo of Dazo Clay Studio, said he was excited to learn Empty Bowls would return this year.
As a Berea College graduate who majored in nutrition and food studies, Dazo said the fundraiser was near to his heart.
Dazo said Berea College has a long history of helping students from lower economic backgrounds get their education — many of those students might have experienced food insecurity in their lives before arriving at the college.
“I was one of those of those people,” Dazo said. “I came from a modest background, and it’s a privilege to be able to give back in this way. Helping the community through food and the idea of feeding people that need help speaks to me.”
Dazo has donated bowls to the fundraiser for seven years.
This year, Dazo made 14 bowls for Empty Bowls — some of those creations have a unique fishbone stamp design while others have a crackling blue glaze.
“I always get a little experimental when Empty Bowls time comes around,” Dazo said with a laugh.
Other local professional potters who have donated their work to the fundraiser include Teresa Cole and Tate Knob Pottery.
Tony Crachiolo, the Berea Food Bank coordinator, said he is excited the fundraiser could return this year.
“We are absolutely delighted they have found a way they can do this year. We have about twice the number of people applying for aid, and summer is coming, and we expect another jump in need,” Crachiolo said. “We are always having to plan for the future and what we need to buy, and fundraisers like this help us immensely in our preparations.”
The order form for the next round of Empty Bowls will be available on the Berea College Farm Store’s website on April 19 at www.bereacollegefarmstore.com/2021-empty-bowls/.
Lyons said those that wish to donate directly to the food bank can do so at https://bereaoutreach.org/support.html.