About Powderhorn Empty Bowls

Our Mission: to make art, provide sustenance and promote the common good.

Powderhorn Empty Bowls was started in 2007 by five neighbors and potters who met at the Powderhorn Park Pottery Program.

Fight Hunger One Bowl at a TimePowderhorn Empty Bowls (PEB) is a wonderful community-building event that will celebrate its 10th Anniversary November 4, 2016. Organized and carried out by a core group with the help of approximately 180 volunteers from the neighborhood this is an all-day event held on the first Friday in November each year. Local potters (including professionals, kids’ programs, and college departments) donate hand-made bowls, bread baked onsite and local volunteers cook soup. Neighbors come together, select a bowl, have a meal of soup and bread, and for this they make a donation.

The net income from the event is donated to help feed the hungry in our neighborhood. This past year proceeds from the event supported the food shelf at the Division of Indian Work, Sisters Camelot, and Youth Farm and Market. The event started as a fundraiser to end hunger. It is apparent to us now that it is also an important community-building event. People come, and many of them spend hours at the park – visiting with neighbors, enjoying the food, which is good beyond description, and feeling good about what we have – and what PEB is trying to share with our neighbors.

Over the last 9 years, because of this Event, the Powderhorn neighborhood has been provided with tens of thousands of meals for neighbors in need.

Over the last nine years this has happened because of supporters like you:

  • 13,400 bowls
  • 14,501 supporters
  • $223,000 to feed folks and build community

The Empty Bowls Project

“Empty Bowls” is an international project to fight hunger, personalized by artists and art organizations on a community level. Each community’s events are self developed and independent. The project expands one group of concerned people at a time, and events are currently held in many areas in the United States, Canada, and is slowly trickling out beyond North America. “Empty Bowls” supports food related charities around the world and has raised millions of dollars to aid in the fight against hunger.

“Empty Bowls” allows participating groups to create and donate bowls, then serve a simple meal. In some communities, ceramic artists are joined by wood turners, glassblowers, fiber artists, metal smiths, painters, sculptors, and other artists and craftspeople. Guests choose a bowl to use that day and to keep as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. In exchange for the meal, and the bowl, guests contribute a suggested minimum donation. One hundred percent of each meal's proceeds are devoted to local hunger-fighting organizations, such as food banks, soup kitchens, or to national or international charitable groups.

“Empty Bowls” events can be sponsored by YOU. The expressed objectives are: 
  • Raise as much money as possible to feed the world's hungry people. Lives are in the balance.
  • Increase awareness of hunger and related issues. Through education, awareness, and action, concerned individuals can change human attitudes that allow hunger to exist.
  • Advocate for arts education. Nurturing the creative process through the arts enhances the possibility of finding new solutions to old problems.

How it All Began

The concept of "Empty Bowls" was founded by a woman named Lisa Blackburn and an Art teacher named John Hartom in 1990-91 when they joined a drive to raise charitable funds in John's Michigan community. Hartom's idea was to organize a charitable event to give artists and art students a way to make a personal difference. Hartom's students made ceramic bowls in their high school art classes. The finished products were then used as individual serving pieces for a fund-raising meal of soup and bread. Contributing guests kept the empty bowl. During the next year, Hartom and other participants developed this concept into “Empty Bowls”. The Imagine/RENDER Group, a 501(c)3 organization, was created to promote the project.

This simple idea and event has been transformed in the last 25 years into an all inclusive fundraising concept that has touched millions of lives in the world, bringing together art, community and education, to battle hunger. Visit the Empty Bowls website at emptybowls.net.