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Thousands of empty bowls, waiting to be filled

Everywhere a person looked at the Duluth Art Institute's Lincoln Center building last week, there were bowls. Big bowls, small bowls, bowls with spouts, painted bowls and shiny glazed bowls, even dog bowls. Bowls of every color, or many colors, w...

Preparing for Empty Bowl
Potter Regina Taylor shows off some of the many bowls created for the Empty Bowl food bank fundraiser, which will be held Tuesday at the Depot. Photo by Jana Peterson/Budgeteer News.

Everywhere a person looked at the Duluth Art Institute's Lincoln Center building last week, there were bowls. Big bowls, small bowls, bowls with spouts, painted bowls and shiny glazed bowls, even dog bowls. Bowls of every color, or many colors, were stacked in the corner of the basement, across a table in the next room, on shelves in the hallway, with even more upstairs.

By Monday, all the bowls will have been transported to the Depot, where area residents will admire and debate which bowl to make their own, during Tuesday's annual Empty Bowl fundraiser for the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank. For $15, people can choose a bowl to take home, eat and feel good about donating to Second Harvest.

Empty Bowl and the events surrounding it (a silent auction and the Sea of Bowls) is the food bank's largest fundraiser, bringing in an average of about $50,000, weather permitting. It is a true community event, with many different area organizations making and painting bowls and some 40 area businesses donating soup, bread and beverages for the event.

"We've been making these since January," said potter/painter Regina Taylor. "Lots of bowls, lots of time and lots of work."

The potter is not complaining though; in fact, she says, it's a labor of love.

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"Besides being enjoyable (making the bowls), it makes you feel good knowing that someone has purchased that because they really wanted it," Taylor said, adding that all of the potters who rent space at the DAI have been making bowls like crazy. "And it goes to a good cause. It's almost selfish, really; we get such enjoyment out of it."

She displays one of her own bowls, painted with a quilt pattern. Then she shows off bowls by other potters, some with beautiful blue and gray markings, several tiny bowls made into pendants, another with a monkey discretely painted inside.

Shaye Moris, executive director of the food bank, said they expect to sell between 2,000 and 2,500 bowls, all locally crafted by everyone from potters to school children.

The money the event will raise is needed more than ever, said Moris, noting there has been about a 13 percent increase in demand for food from the food bank.

For those unfamiliar with Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank, Second Harvest is not a food shelf. Think "food rescuer" instead, as the organization basically stops good food from being thrown away by restaurants, manufacturers, farmers and more. As a food bank, Second Harvest takes that food, stores it as needed and then distributes the food to more than 140 front-line charitable agencies that offer meals to the hungry.

In the meantime, Moris has her fingers crossed that Duluth will not be hit with a spring blizzard Tuesday. Organizers actually moved the Empty Bowl date back three weeks this year, because two out of the past three years produced a snowstorm on the same day, making it more difficult for community members to come out and show their support.

National Weather Service meteorologist Carol Christenson said the chances of snow Tuesday were pretty close to zero.

"If it does precipitate, it will be in the form of a liquid, not snow," Christenson said Wednesday.

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Things to know about Empty Bowl

When: 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: The Depot, 506 W. Michigan St.

How much: $15 per person gets you a bowl of your choice, plus soup, bread and a beverage.

For the best bowls: The Sea of Bowls event runs from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday at the Depot. A silent auction of the juried Best of the Bowls will run from Monday evening through Tuesday.

Monkey bowl

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