By Jeff Noble, Staff Writer
Spring’s almost here, and within weeks the potter’s wheel will kick into full gear, the kilns will be fired up, and volunteers will paint the finished bowls.
It’s all part of what’s become an important event for a very worthy cause — helping to raise food for the hungry in Barbourville and Knox County.
This year’s Empty Bowls Project has been set for April 11-12, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days. But instead of the bowls being sold in front of the Knox County Courthouse in Barbourville like the past three years, this year’s event — the project’s fourth annual one — will be moved about 50 feet down the street on the porch of Tammy’s Cafe on Courthouse Square.
Along with the new location, Melissa Newman of Kentucky Harvest Southeast noted this year’s project is starting to look for sponsorships to help increase the funds raised in order to help feed more families.
“What these sponsors do is pay for the making of the bowls. This way the businesses and community can both participate. And it’s a good time to think about helping to fight hunger. Most people give during the holidays, but as we get into late winter and early spring, the food pantry’s cupboards get bare and need to be replenished. That’s why it’s a good time to help out now,” said Newman, who is president of Kentucky Harvest Southeast, a food raising and fundraising organization that supports local food pantries and sponsors the project.
Newman added her organization supports the Christian Life Food Pantry in Barbourville, which is FDA (the federal Food and Drug Administration) approved.
Newman pointed out there are four sponsorship levels. They begin at the Bronze level, which is between $100-$199. Next is the Silver level, between $200-$299, and followed by the Gold level, which is between $300-$399. The fourth and highest level is Platinum, which goes for $400 or more.
Sponsorships in the project include mentions of the business, organization or individuals in all pre-event marketing, which will include the sponsorship level they paid for. It also includes a prominent display of the company’s name or logo at the bowl table during the event’s two days, a certificate for the business to display, and a commemorative sponsorship bowl, which is reserved for Platinum sponsors.
All of the proceeds of the funds raised for Empty Bowls are used to help meet the needs of thousands of local families and children in Knox County. According to Newman, 150 bowls were originally made for the project last year.
The bowls are made at the KCEOC Community Action complex in Gray at Teresa Pope, a local potter from KCEOC Community Crafts. She and local volunteers also paint the bowls, which are sold ready to use, are dishwasher safe and microwavable.
This year, Newman says they’re looking at having “a little over 200 bowls made” to keep up with the increased demand for the bowls — and to help by more food for those in need.
“Every year, we have an increase in the number of people who need food. We’re able to take the money raised from the campaign and buy more food in bulk, which is the number one need for the food bank. What they really need food-wise, and what the food bank always needs are non-perishable food that has a longer shelf life. When you have a family in need, you can put something together quickly and get that need met,” she said.
For those who buy a bowl, or sponsor the project, they will get their need for a hot bowl of soup or chili, or chicken and dumplings at a new location that’s not far from the original bowl sales site.
“We’ve partnered with Tammy’s Cafe, which is on the corner of the Courthouse and is just a few steps away from the Courthouse. We’ll have a banner and be set up on their front porch of the restaurant. They can buy the bowl and go inside and fill it up with one of Tammy’s specialty soups,” said Newman.
If you’d like to be a sponsor for Empty Bowls Project 2013, or need more information, you can contact Newman at 606- 627-2601, Jim Dorn at 606-304-5366, Don Root at 606-864-0756, or any other Kentucky Harvest Southeast member.
During last year’s event, organizers said the proceeds from the bowl sales benefitted the Christian Life Food Pantry immensely. As a result, the food pantry was able to feed around 5,000 to 5,500 Knox County families a month. Since the project began in 2010, those involved noted Kentucky Harvest Southeast distributed almost 520,000 pounds of food — almost 260 tons.