Graphic showing how food is collected and distributed

Feeding Community…Together

There’s a wonderful feeling that fills the room at the Empty Bowls Project Dinner. People from across the county come together to share a simple meal with a simple mission: to end hunger.

The basic premise of Empty Bowls (an international event) is simple: Potters and other craftspeople, educators and community members work with the community to create handcrafted bowls. Attendees have the pleasure of selecting a bowl from hundreds of one-of-a-kind hand-crafted bowls donated by Southern Oregon artists and community members. Guests are invited to enjoy a meal of soup and bread. At the end of the evening, they can to choose to keep their bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in our community or donate it back for future years.

The Need in Our Community

1 in 4 of Douglas County’s school aged children are hungry when they arrive to school—some having not eaten a full meal since they left school the day before. Children are the most vulnerable to the effects of persistent hunger as it reduces their ability to learn and negatively impacts their health, growth, and development.

40% of county residents live in a food desert, meaning they do not have easy access to a supermarket with healthy, affordable food options, and so they often find sustenance in convenience stores or face a long drive to a town with a grocery store that stocks fresh produce, milk, eggs, and other staples.

The UCAN Food Bank, through our network of partner agencies, provides over 400,000 meals each year.

The Origin of Our Empty Bowls Event

In years past, the UCAN Food Bank did a fundraising event called Empty Bowls. At the time, local ceramic artists, community members and staff created ceramic bowls that were sold at local events. As fundraising strategies changed over time, that event ended and UCAN spent the next 6 years focusing on Windows of Hope and then Step Into Hope.

In 2017, the planning team at UCAN decided it was time to seize the opportunity to “return to its roots” and bring back a project that was harmonious with the UCAN Food Bank mission of filling empty bowls in Douglas County.