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Students fill UFV’s empty bowls

Despite last year’s cancellation, the highly successful Empty Bowls project is officially returning to UFV.

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Date Posted: April 14, 2011
Print Edition: April 8, 2011

By Jennifer Colbourne (Staff Writer) – Email

Despite last year’s cancellation, the highly successful Empty Bowls project is officially returning to UFV.

Self-described as “an international grassroots effort to fight hunger,” the premise is quite simple; according to emptybowls.net: “Potters and other craftspeople, educators” and others work with the community to create handcrafted bowls. Guests are invited to a simple meal of soup and bread. In exchange for a cash donation, guests are asked to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. The money raised is donated to an organization working to end hunger and food insecurity.”

The project is set to return due to the efforts of UFV student Nakita Nolan. In the previous year, she explained, Student Life couldn’t host the event “because they didn’t have anybody to do it, [and] they wanted a [student] organization to take on the project.”

Student Life ended up faced with the same problem again this year, but Nolan wasn’t about to let the project go. As she is currently helping at Student Life as a social work practicum student, taking on this type of project was right up her alley. Nolan specifically mandated in her practicum to build the university community, and she believes that Empty Bowls would be “the best way to bring UFV together as a unit in order to help the [Abbotsford] food bank,” which is to receive the proceeds of the event.

According to Nolan, the reason why Abbotsford food bank was chosen is because “We have lots of students [who] can’t afford food, so they come to Student Life – and then we go to the food bank, we pick up the food, and we bring it back here. So… what’s happening is there’s all this stuff going out but not a lot of stuff going in [to the food bank]… This is a way for Empty Bowls to give back.”

Students volunteer their time to make and decorate the clay bowls at U-house. They are then glazed, filled with soup and sold for $10 at the Empty Bowls dinner. Kyle Nadalin, a Student Life work-study, described his experience as “fantastic. You get your hands into that wet clay and make bowls and you know that it’s helping the community at large. Some of us have made four, five, six bowls… once you get an idea how it’s done it doesn’t take as long per bowl… People can spend as little as 15 to 20 minutes on a bowl or as much as an hour, it depends how much effort you want to put into it.”

With only a few weeks to go until the dinner, Student Life has already almost reached its goal of ninety bowls. Remaining bowl-making and decorating sessions are on April 11 from 1-4 p.m., April 14 from 4-6 p.m., and there is a final decorating-only session on Mon April 18 from 1-3 p.m. All who are interested are more than welcome to come help; as Nolan asked: “Why not volunteer a half hour of your time to make a footprint in your community?”

With nearly all the bowls finished, however, what’s most important to Nolan now is that students come out to support the event itself. The Empty Bowls Dinner is set to take place on Thursday, April 21 at 4:30 p.m. (doors open at 3:30 p.m.) at U-house. Tickets, which are $10 and include both a meal and a bowl, are available at the U-house front desk, but will be sold at the door as well.

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