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Alliance, food bank prepare for ’09 Empty Bowls project

By Staff | Oct 13, 2009

Harry Chapin Food Bank will hold its first Empty Bowls soup kitchen from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers, which is hosting the hunger awareness project for the first time.
Joyce Jacobs, associate director and disaster coordinator for Harry Chapin Food Bank, said the center has been hosting the Empty Bowls event in Lee County for 17 years.
She said that in the past, the bowls have been on display at the Bell Tower shopping mall during the annual event — without soup.
“Not only can the event point out the hunger needs in Lee County, but also aid in the fund raising for Harry Chapin,” volunteer Jody Van Cooney said. “It will come at a time when supplies and funds are being depleted from spring and summer fund-raisers and food drives, and more and more families and individuals are in need of assistance.”
The 2009 Empty Bowls event, which raises awareness of hunger, is sponsored by Panera Bread. Coordinated by Lee County art teachers, it provides the public with an opportunity to donate money and choose an empty bowl created by Lee County students and have it filled with soup.
Suzanne Somogyi, Lehigh Senior High School art teacher and chair of the Empty Bowls committee, said she first heard about the Empty Bowls project through the Lee Art Education Association of Lee County, the group that spearheaded the collaboration with the food bank.
She said she has been involved with the project for 12 years.
“The art teachers of Lee County have been participating in this nationwide fund-raiser for local food banks for more than 15 years,” Somogyi said.
She said the Empty Bowls project provides the students in the district with the opportunity to create something for individuals who are less fortunate than them.
“The Harry Chapin Empty Bowls Event is an event that allows my students to participate in helping feed the less fortunate in Lee County,” Somogyi said. “It is really important because it teaches our students how important it is to help those who are more needy then they are.”
She said elementary, middle and high school students will create 500-600 bowls with a food safe glaze.
Somogyi believes approximately 25 schools are participating in the event, donating 25 bowls each.
“My students are creating coil bowls with a black and white Mimbres design,” she said. “Students all over Lee County are creating unique, one-of-a-kind ceramic bowls that will be offered at the event for a $10 donation.”
Jacobs said a young lady from Florida Gulf Coast University is also working with individuals to help them create bowls for the event, which will be on display.
The soup will be donated by 10 local restaurants, along with Costco, which will provide water.
Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah, Lee County School Board member Elinor Scricca and Fort Myers Councilman Mike Flanders will be the guest servers for the event.
“Regardless of the size of bowl that’s selected on Nov. 7, the person can have as much soup as desired, even if it is from different restaurants,” Van Cooney said
Once the bowls are emptied, student volunteers will wash them and return them to their owners so individuals can take it home as a reminder that many bowls are empty.
The event will feature a silent auction of artists’ bowls, pottery demonstrations and musical entertainment provided by students in the school districts.
“It’s a really nice family event for everyone to come out and enjoy music and good soup and go home with a nice bowl,” Jacobs said.
“It has always been a successful event,” she said. “Some people have a collection of bowls from all the years.”
“I invite everyone to come out and bring a friend,” Somogyi said. “You will be rewarded with the feeling that you are helping feed the hungry and sharing in this wonderful celebration of art education.”
In the past fiscal year, the Harry Chapin Food Bank distributed more than 6 million pounds of food and other grocery products.
The food bank solicits, collects and stores quality food for distribution to people in need through a network of more than 160 nonprofit agencies in Southwest Florida. Those organizations provide 500,000 pounds of food to more than 20,000 people every month.
For information, call 334-7007 or visit its Web site at: www.harrychapinfoodbank.org. The Alliance for the Arts is located at 10091 McGregor Blvd., in Fort Myers.