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Empty Bowls

The holiday season is a time to give thanks for what we have, and to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Each year at Ohio Northern University, opportunities exist to do just that.

On Saturday, November 20, area artists met at ONU’s Elzay Gallery of Art to raise money for hunger, a global issue that is brought to the fore this time of year.

Called “Artists Against Hunger,” the event raised $1,100 for several Hardin County non-profit organizations including Vista, the Neighborhood Center of Hardin County, ReStore, Helping Hands, The Backpack Program, Love Inc. and the United Way of Hardin County, through the sale of handmade ceramic soup bowls in a variation of an Empty Bowls fundraiser.

Empty Bowls fundraisers are held all over the world to raise money and awareness to help fight hunger and food insecurity. The first program began in 1990, when a Michigan high school art teacher came up with the idea of an “empty bowl” luncheon of soup, bread and water as a reminder of hunger in the world.

“It is a way that we can help combat hunger here at home,” said Brit Rowe, chair of the Department of Art and Design at ONU. “And, what is really unique about our event, is that participants will take their bowls home as reminders that there are people right here in our county who know what real hunger is like.”

The 110 soup bowls sold at the event were made by high school students and teachers from the Ada Exempted Village Schools, Kenton City Schools and Upper Scioto Valley Schools, as well as local artists, professors and students from ONU.

“The bowls are works of art and something that anyone would be proud to own,” Rowe said.

While the bowls themselves were contributed by artists, area businesses Viva Maria Italian Cuisine in Ada, Community Markets Stores, Save-a-Lot Food Stores, and Ascle Consulting contributed the food that was served in them. Without their support, “Artists Against Hunger” would have been impossible.

“The idea behind the luncheon is for everything to be donated and we greatly appreciate the support of our local businesses,” said event coordinator Steve Kiefer.

“We want to thank Ohio Northern and the Department of Art and Design for the use of its facility,” Kiefer said. “We greatly appreciate all of their support in making the luncheon a success. And a big thank you, too, to our participating merchants and to all of those who made the bowls.”

ONU’s season of giving continues on December 15, when the Department of Art and Design holds its annual dinner and auction in McIntosh Student Center. For more information, contact Brit Rowe at