Clark County’s Empty Bowls fundraiser returns to original format

“It’s a simple event but has such a huge impact,” Second Harvest organizer says

Filling your stomach with a tasty soup can help meet the food insecurities of needy Clark County residents. You’ll also take home a permanent reminder of doing your part.

Wittenberg University will present its 28th annual Empty Bowls fundraiser in person for the first time since 2019 when it returns, 4:30-7 p.m. Thursday at Wittenberg’s Center Dining Room of the Benham-Pence Student Center.

Hosted by the Wittenberg Art Department in conjunction with Second Harvest Food Bank of Clark, Champaign and Logan Counties, attendees can choose one of 1,000 unique bowls created locally for $20 and enjoy one of nine soups and bread in the company of other community members. The handcrafted bowl is yours to keep.

Monies raised will help Second Harvest curb Clark County food insecurity. While organizers are thrilled to have Empty Bowls back live after modified events, the event addresses new challenges left in the pandemic’s wake.

At the end of February, additional Ohio Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to alleviate more obstacles created by pandemic conditions were reduced, according to Audrey Vanzant, development manager at Second Harvest. Around $2 million less is being received in caseloads in the areas they service locally.

“This is great timing as we’re in this crisis where people could use this as a security blanket and they no longer have it,” Vanzant said.

She said Second Harvest wasn’t sure what to anticipate from Champaign County’s Empty Bowls event in February, but organizers were pleased with the result and have high expectations for Clark County’s event. Second Harvest has a fundraising goal $60,000; the previous live Empty Bowls event raised a record of more than $50,000.

A big point of pride for Empty Bowls is the community involvement. They’ve raised $45,000 in sponsorships already and hope to make up the rest at the event.

Led by professor of Art Scott Dooley, Wittenberg has annual Throwing Days in which students, faculty and community members throw, glaze and fire the bowls. Springfield High students also help create bowls, and this year a new partnership with Cliff Park High will contribute 100 engraved wooden spoons for sponsors.

“Wittenberg has been great about giving back for them to glaze these bowls each year. It’s a real community effort for them to be a part of,” said Tyra Jackson, executive director of Second Harvest.

Commemorative T-shirts designed by Sarah Baker, a 2019 Wittenberg graphic design graduate, will also be available.

Having Empty Bowls live again brings the social aspect back. Vanzant said although people line up as early as a half-hour before the doors open, smile and chat, it’s also a reminder of what those facing food insecurity endure in a soup kitchen line or at the food bank, and they could be someone you’ve never met or even a neighbor or coworker.

“It’s a simple event but has such a huge impact. There’s just a sense of community that makes a difference in people’s lives,” said Vanzant.

Anyone who can’t make the event can make a financial donation at Second Harvest’s website at

Logan County’s Empty Bowls fundraiser will be May 4 at the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center.

About the Author