Hunger fundraiser sets ambitious goal: fill 500 empty bowls

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comNovember 23, 2012 

Los Banosans are being asked to bring awareness to the problem of hunger and provide some much-needed cash to local nonprofits who help the less fortunate.

Los Banos Junior High, the Los Banos Arts Council and Rotary Club are sponsoring the third annual Empty Bowls project Dec. 4 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Ted Falasco Arts Center, 1105 Fifth St.

Organizers are hoping to have 500 community members purchase the $12.50 tickets to eat soup and take home a ceramic bowl, which represents the empty bowl of someone in need of food.

"It's just important as an educating thing to remind people not only of the hunger around the world but right here in our own community," said Colleen Menefee, who is a Rotarian and a member of the Arts Council.

Empty Bowls, which is often organized by artists or other small groups, raises money to help organizations that fight hunger and raise hunger awareness. In January, when the second Empty Bowls was held in Los Banos, $2,825 was split among Project Cherish, Meals on Wheels, Bethel Community Church's food pantry and The Salvation Army.

Menefee said the Rotary Club has not decided which organizations will receive money this time, but there's a chance it could be the same ones.

Los Banos Junior High ceramics teacher Jim Clarke organized the making of the bowls. He said he's molded more than 540 bowls for the project and is worried about whether that many tickets can be sold.

Clarke said Menefee told him she believes about 500 tickets will be purchased. Clarke said he just wants to make sure it's a good use of his time.

"They printed 600 tickets. If they sell all the tickets, I'll make the rest of the bowls by Dec. 4," he said.

Only scrap clay is accepted for the Empty Bowls project and everything that is not used gets recycled, said Clarke. After they are painted, the ceramic bowls are placed in a kiln for four to five hours and, once finished, take on a glossy appearance with vibrant colors. Rotary Club members, community volunteers and students in the Merced College, Los Banos Campus Social Science Club painted the bowls.

Menefee said what she has seen at past Empty Bowl events is a friendly, family-oriented atmosphere.

"There's no entertainment," she said. "It's actually one of those events where people stay and talk."

Empty Bowls tickets can be purchased at Rooney's Liquor, 310 W. Pacheco Blvd.

Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or by email at

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