Fighting Hunger One Bowl at a Time

By Jeff Eason & Frank Ruggiero (

Article Published: Mar. 20, 2013 | Modified: Mar. 24, 2013
Fighting Hunger One Bowl at a Time

The Empty Bowls Dinner not only serves as a fundraiser for the Hunger and Health Coalition, but also as a reminder to continue to reach out to less fortunate community members.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero

Watauga High School students are filling a need by filling some bowls.

The annual Empty Bowls Dinner returns to Watauga High School March 23, offering patrons a home-cooked dinner, served in a handcrafted, functional piece of local artwork.

Now in its 12th year, Empty Bowls is a project undertaken by Watauga High School art students each year to raise money for the Hunger and Health Coalition.

Diners pay for a handmade ceramic bowl and are fed a simple meal of soup, bread and drink. The idea is to get the public thinking about the numerous families – many in the High Country – who go hungry on a regular basis.

At the end of the meal, diners get to keep their handmade bowl as a reminder to continue to reach out to those in our community who are less fortunate.

This year, bowls and art for Empty Bowls have been created by the WHS art students under the direction of instructors Whit Whitaker, Lori Hill, Susan Dunn and Shelton Wilder.

There will also be bowls made by Watauga County elementary school students under the direction of art teachers Dacia Trethewey and Jill Huffman. Some area professional potters have also donated work, as have the artisans of Appalachian State University’s Michael Patricelli Crafts Enrichment Program.

This year’s Empty Bowls Dinner will also feature a silent auction with a wide variety of donated and handcrafted items.

Live music for the event comes courtesy of student musicians in Watauga High School’s string band, chorus, orchestra, jazz band and theater class groups.

“I am looking forward to the community coming together again to support what the students are doing in this fundraiser,” Whitaker said. “We have a lot of donors who donate their work every year, and they also come out for the dinner. It’s so rare that all of these artisans get together all at the same time.

“So, Empty Bowls has become like an annual family reunion for this group of people, and a lot of them have told me how much they look forward to it each year. I know I do. It’s a lot of work, but also a lot of fun.”

Part of that fun comes from a diverse and high-quality menu, compiled by area restaurants and students.

This year’s spread includes French, honey wheat and spinach feta rolls from Stick Boy Bread Company, broccoli cheddar soup from the WHS Pro-Start II and Advanced Food II classes, Italian basil minestrone soup from Casa Rustica, potato soup from Pepper’s Restaurant, curry butternut squash soup from Melanie’s Food Fantasy, Brunswick stew from Woodland’s Barbecue and Pickin’ Parlor, Troy’s traditional chili from Troy’s 105 Diner, clam chowder from The Speckled Trout, and ginger carrot bisque from the F.A.R.M. Café.

The dinner will also feature a large variety of desserts prepared by the Friends of Watauga organization.

Empty Bowls originally started in Michigan in 1990, when a high school art teacher helped students help the hungry by making ceramic bowls for a fundraising meal.

Guests could purchase a meal of soup and bread, served in one of the students’ handmade bowls, and then keep the bowl as a reminder. Empty Bowls grew into a nonprofit organization, Imagine/Render, and such events have been held the world over since.

Watauga High has participated since 2002, raising $56,200 for the Hunger and Health Coalition.
“(Empty Bowls) is an event we look forward to every year – a fantastic effort that the high school and local artists contribute to that comes at a time when we can really use help in purchasing food to be distributed,” Hunger and Health Coalition executive director Compton Fortuna said in a previous interview.

The 12th annual Empty Bowls Dinner will be held at Watauga High School from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 23. Admission is a minimum donation of $15.

The annual Mr. WHS Pageant, which raises funds for area families in need, will immediately follow at 7 p.m. Admission is $10 per person.

Watauga High School is located at 300 Go Pioneers Drive in Boone. For more information, or directions, call WHS at (828) 264-2407.

Additional Images

The Empty Bowls Dinner not only serves as a fundraiser for the Hunger and Health Coalition, but also as a reminder to continue to reach out to less fortunate community members.
Photo by Frank Ruggiero

Watauga High School student Carrie Sweeney creates a ceramic bowl in Whit Whitaker’s pottery class. The bowl will be sold this weekend as part of the Empty Bowls Dinner.
Photo by Jeff Eason

Facebook Fans
Home » Community Events » Fighting Hunger One Bowl at a Time
Local Business Marketplace

Find more businesses on

Attorneys · Automotive · Health Care
Home & Garden · Hotels & Lodging Restaurants
Retail · Recreation · Real Estate & Rentals · Services

Banner Elk My Hometown
Boone My Hometown
ASU Sports