College of Liberal Arts

- University of Mississippi

Oxford fights hunger one Empty Bowl at a time

Empty Bowls is an annual luncheon that benefits Oxford’s Pantry. Admission is $15 and includes a bottle of water, bread and soup served in a one-of-a-kind bowl. Photo: Virginia England/The Daily Mississippian.

Empty Bowls is an annual luncheon that benefits Oxford’s Pantry. Admission is $15 and includes a bottle of water, bread and soup served in a one-of-a-kind bowl. Photo: Virginia England/The Daily Mississippian.

February 13, 2014 by Virginia England

Empty Bowls, an annual luncheon benefiting Oxford’s The Pantry, will be held at Oxford-University United Methodist Church today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Admission is $15 and includes a bottle of water, locally made bread and soup served in one-of-a-kind bowls created and donated by The University of Mississippi’s ceramic students and local potters. All proceeds go to The Pantry to support its effort to provide food to members of Lafayette County in need.

Empty Bowls, an international effort to fight hunger, will celebrate its 11th year in the Oxford community.

The event consistently raises between $13,000 to $14,000 each year. This year more than 20 local restaurants are participating by donating soup and bread to the event.

The Mississippi Mud Daubers, a group of UM B.F.A. and advanced ceramics students, led by ceramics professor Matt Long, donate around 500 bowls to the event each year.

Last fall, the weekend after finals week the UM ceramics studio was open to students of all levels to make bowls to be donated to Empty Bowls.

“Everyone comes in and we sit and we throw all day then we come in to trim and fire them all during Christmas. We just finished firing them all; glazing happens during class time,” said John Cummings, president of UM Mud Daubers.

“Students come in and some throw 50 bowls, some throw 70, some 10. Whatever they can do.” Cummings said.

Over 75 percent of the bowls come from the UM ceramics department, according to June Rosentreter, chairman of Empty Bowls.

“One of the hardest things about ceramics is that you cannot work last minute,” said ceramics student Mike Cinelli. “It’s good for students in the ceramics department because it gets them making and meeting deadlines, which is a good practice professionally.”

Ole Miss students as well as faculty members have played a large role in Empty Bowls.

“Ron Dale is the one who really got it started; he was the professor before Matt Long took over,” Rosentreter said. “I was taking a ceramics class that semester and he asked if I was interested in getting it going because he had been donating his bowls to the one in Tupelo.”

The bowls serve as a reminder that there are neighbors of the community facing hunger each day.

“You learn to feed one another so that no one will ever have an empty bowl,” Rosentreter said. “That’s why we are very insistent on keeping the bowls so they enjoy the soup in the bowl, then get to take it home.”