Empty Bowl Stories

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2018 Empty Bowl

About the Empty Bowl Project

In 1990, the Empty Bowl Project was conceptualized by John Harton, an art teacher from Michigan, as a way to help his students creatively support a food drive. He had his class make ceramic bowls and invited the community to come have a simple dinner, with food donated by local restaurants. From there, the idea was born. Those first diners did not even know that they were going to take home the bowl that they had just used for soup, as a reminder of all the empty bowls that still need filling, every night, around the world.

This concept began a movement and now there are Empty Bowl events held around the world. While each is unique, they share a common purpose and that is to raise awareness about the acute problem of hunger worldwide.

At Sandy Spring Friends School, a small group of teachers and parents started the Empty Bowl Project in 2005 with the goals to:

  • Create lasting social change
  • Raise awareness of world hunger
  • Collect money to support programs to feed the hungry
  • Build community

In the 10 years since the SSFS community began the Empty Bowl Project, the School has hosted 6 bi-annual dinners, raising more than $45,000 to feed the hungry in our area. These efforts have been supported by hundreds of volunteers from our community who have created thousands of beautiful, hand-painted bowls, and local restaurants and volunteer chefs who have provided thousands of servings of soup and bread.