Feeling hungry? See how Empty Bowls can help.

May 4, 2010 at 4:00 pm Leave a comment

Did you skip breakfast this morning?  Or work through lunch? Does your stomach feels empty or nauseous? Know how you can’t concentrate well and you are distracted by thoughts of your next meal?  Then you aren’t alone.  And, unfortunately, for many people, hunger is the result of the hard choices they have to make to pay the bill. Missed meals and meals of low nutritional value are the most common hallmarks of hunger in America.

According to City Harvest, more than 25 million people across the country visit emergency feeding programs – nearly 9 million children – each year. In New York City alone, kids who rely on hunger assistance annually could fill Yankee Stadium nine times. Yet, because 95% of the time you cannot tell a person is hungry by looking at her, hunger is largely invisible to most of us.

These facts spurred active and thoughtful discussion among the third-grade students at my son’s school. This year, I’m co-chairing the third-grade’s community service project Empty Bowls to benefit hunger assistance programs in NYC.  My experienced co-chair Laurie artfully led the children through a discussion of what hunger feels like and looks in America. Even though I’ve lived with children in the city for eight years, it was eye-opening to hear the students talk about seeing and in many cases trying to help the homeless they encounter on our streets. At the same time, the bigger picture of hunger (beyond the panhandlers) really sunk in as the students shared lots of scenarios about how and why hard-working people may not make enough money or find themselves unemployed, leaving them unable to buy the food their family needs.  We shared the fact that 9 out of 10 people at risk of hunger have homes.  As the kids talked through ways we can help – such as volunteering at a soup kitchen, donating food to a pantry, giving money to a reputable charity, or directly donating to an individual – I felt we were empowering them to act on an issue they clearly feel emotional about.

The Empty Bowls project provides the children with a specific opportunity to raise money for a charity dedicated to hunger relief. Our Empty Bowls project is one of the variations on the theme repeated in many ways in many places. At our school, the third-graders create their own ceramic bowls which as empty vessels symbolize the meals many children are forced to skip, around the city and across the country. Our students display their beautiful creations in an art show and parents have the opportunity to “buy” them with a donation to a charity aiding hunger relief.  As with all our projects, we have no suggested donation amount and all monies collected are pooled and sent to our charity of choice as a gift from our school’s third grade.

Empty Bowls is a project you can easily do at your school or club. Or, simply pull together a group of friends and head to your own make-your-own-pottery shop such as Make in New York City. Once your creations are ready, hold your own art show at someone’s house or the local park (as an alternative to the ubiquitous Lemonade Stand) and collect donations to benefit the organization of your choice.  Visit FeedingAmerica.org for excellent information about hunger in America — try the quiz in the Hunger 101 section, to get everyone up to speed on this critical issue. As one of our art teachers told her class, the best art comes from the heart and when you use the creative process to help others, it is that much more beautiful.

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Entry filed under: fundraising, kids, school project. Tags: , , , , , , .

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