Empty Bowls – Community at its best!


Christina Cherniske, Staff Writer


Around 165 people gathered in the E.O Smith atrium in May for the school-wide charity event Empty Bowls. In partnership with the Covenant Soup Kitchen in Willimantic, guests were served the finest homemade soup in handmade bowls and entertained by live, talented, local artists. After the event, guests were able to take their bowls home to further enjoy. 

The goals of the evening and all the preparation for it were to raise awareness about the global issue of food insecurity and to raise money locally for the Covenant Soup Kitchen. This was the second Empty Bowls event staged by school staff and students in recent years. This year, money was raised by general donations and proceeds from attendees purchasing bowls to use for their soup. Mrs. Bunnell, an art teacher and one of the organizing staff members, described the night: “The event itself is extraordinary. There are few things more rewarding than the energy that comes when a bunch of people come together to make good happen. Personally, I loved watching people enjoy the soups prepared under skillful guidance of Beth Daitch, while children danced to live music outside-pure joy!” 

Over $3,000 was raised and around 200 bowls sold. In an interview  Mr.Saccamano, the treasurer, music planner, and facilities leader of the event, recalled with wonder at how many generous donations he received at the front desk. In fact, he said that donations were still coming in as the school year concluded! He was amazed at the pure willingness of so many people ready to help better expose the truth of food insecurity. 

Mr. Saccamano, also a History teacher, said that he was worried about Covid impacting the event’s attendance, but the timing worked out as the event was held during a dip in cases. However, not as many people attended as did three years ago when the first event took place prior to the pandemic, but the amount of donations and magnanimity was the same. 

Mrs. Bunnell made an almost daily commitment, ensuring the event was perfect. She took care of the pottery aspect, helping classes make bowls, then firing them in the kiln, and trimming them for the students. She also was in charge of contacting pottery organizations outside the school. “My favorite parts of Empty Bowls are the community events,’’ she said. “One of my favorite days was when a Ceramics 1 class taught a Psychology class how to glaze. The studio was bustling as students taught their peers dipping, pouring and brushing methods.” She also enjoyed hearing the speakers during the two teach-in days. With her classes she listened to Dianasi Torres talk about Click, a multi-service kitchen that supports local farmers in Windham County, and Ike Curtin from DC Kitchen. She found it wonderful that they were willing to share what important work they were doing. 

Mrs.Bunnell and Mr.Saccamano gave many shout-outs and thank yous:

  • The custodial department – for setting up tables and chairs, taking care of the music set-up, propping doors, cleaning up, and many other arrangements. 
  • History’s Mrs. DesJarlais – for spearheading the task of organizing the event and for playing a significant role in moving the event forward. 
  • Mrs. Nocton
  • Mr. Santasiere
  • Mrs. Daitch – for being the head chef, overseeing the culinary classes cooking the soup, and for obtaining all the food necessary
  • Mrs. John – for planning the music
  • E.O Smith Foundation – for helping offset the cost of the food
  • All participants and those who made the day special!

Empty Bowls not only brought to light food insecurity, but created an impactful, creative, and fun environment for the school community to grow. “I don’t know exactly how many students participated, but my guess is that at least half the school was touched with events or experiences related to Empty Bowls and food insecurity. The events brought the school together by showing that by empowering individuals to create action, big or small, we can collectively do big things,” said Mrs. Bunnell. At least 30 students and 25 staff members were involved in the planning, organizing, and creating of the event. Various clubs were able to set up booths and offer different insights on food insecurity – one of the main purposes of the event. By involving E.O’s clubs and teams, around 100 more students participated. 

The impact of the Empty Bowls event did not end with the night of the event. There are still bowls left to buy; they are sold in the Atrium during partner events and will soon be available by a self-serve basis online. If you don’t want a bowl but still want to help, you can donate directly to the Covenant Soup Kitchen by using this website:  https://www.covenantsoupkitchen.org/donation.htm

The Empty Bowls fundraiser was a success and would not have been possible if it were not for the ready hands and hearts.  Food insecurity is a tremendous problem that seems daunting at times, but with many hands comes light work and just a willingness to help can accomplish great things.