In the spring of 2000, Joann Winkler, a fifth grade teacher at Liberty Elementary, was teaching a class of children who had been identified as being at risk of dropping out. Winkler was always on the hunt for projects that would both engage her students and sow the seeds of community service. Winkler heard about Empty Bowls, a national grassroots effort to raise awareness about hunger, from one of her colleagues. The concept was simple. Groups of people get together to make bowls and then serve a meal at which the bowls are sold. Proceeds from the event are donated to organizations that feed the hungry in the local community. Winkler knew it would be a great “service learning” project for her kids—and lots of fun.
The project required funding to purchase clay and other materials and food. Winkler and her nascent Empty Bowls committee turned to the Arts & Humanities Council and received a $500 grant to fund the program.
Forty students participated that first year. They made the bowls in their art classes. A simple lunch (featuring Campbell’s chicken noodle soup) was prepared and served by the students in the Liberty Elementary library. The event raised $250.