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The Carletonian

Empty Bowl event raises money for Northfield Food Shelf

<up, ceramic bowls, and a common concern for hunger issues brought more than 300 students, faculty and staff to the Bald Spot last Friday, giving away 450 bowls and raising $5,605 for the 5th annual Empty Bowls event. The purpose of the event is to raise awareness about hunger issues which have become increasingly bigger in Northfield and in Minnesota since 1999. By giving participants bowls to take home with them, organizers hope “to leave people with a reminder that there is hunger in the world,” said Liz Alspach, an Empty Bowls organizer. Bowls full of soup are handed out to participants with a requested donation of $10 to $15. While participants do not have to donate money for the bowls, the money that is donated goes to the Northfield Community Action Center’s Food Shelf.

The Empty Bowls event is a unique and comprehensive act of community involvement. Each bowl is created by the hands of multiple people who step in at different stages of the project. For example, one person may throw the bowl while another glazes it so that in the end, each bowl is truly a product of the community. All of the materials and labor that go into the bowls are donated by the College and the College’s ceramics community. The cost of clay is covered by the ceramics department, where they make it from raw materials. And the making of the bowls is incorporated into the ceramics classes and the job descriptions of students who work in the ceramics department. For example, each student in an advanced ceramics class is expected to make 25-30 bowls as part of a homework assignment. There are also two or three days a term when the ceramics department invites community members into the studio to make bowls.

Many members of the community, including interest houses, town houses, Northfield-option houses and dorm floors, also donated their services by making over 20 pots of soup, which was handed out with the bowls. This year there was so much soup that there was enough for participants to have second and third helpings. Lastly, this year in particular Residential Assistants “encouraged their floors to donate to their year which really helped get [the donation] numbers up,” said Empty Bowls founder Professor Kelly Connole.

Carleton’s version of Empty Bowls, started by Connole in the spring of 2004, is a little different than ones put on in other communities. Many times at Empty Bowls events around the world, participants are given a meager amount of food in order that they not only leave the event with a bowl to remember, but they also leave a little bit hungry so that they have a physical reminder of hunger in the stomach. At Carleton’s event on the other hand, Bon Appetit donated apples and the Brick Oven Bakery donated bread to supplement the meal.

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