Empty Bowls

Empty Bowls Project is a grassroots movement to help end hunger. Since being created by The Imagine Render Group, it has grown into an international movement raising awareness and money to help those in need. Its concept is simple: potters and other craftsmen, educators and non-profits, gather with their community to create hand crafted bowls. Guests are invited for a meal of soup and bread, and as a "thank you" for donating to local hunger relief, are gifted a handmade bowl as a reminder of all of the empty bowls in the world.

Our annual Empty Bowls Project is a collaboration between Urban Eats and Arts & Crafts community in St. Louis. All the proceeds goes to St. Anthony's Food Pantry - a vital neighborhood institution serving the disadvantaged for decades in South City (63111, 63116 and 63118).


Why did the artist get involved?

"As a potter and art professor, I am not in a philanthropic position to write big checks to food banks. Even if I were, hunger issues in our country are community issues deserving community responses. I had heard about, even participated in a couple of Empty Bowl Projects in other communities. One day, eleven years ago I approached the pastor of my local church saying, 'why don't I make 50 bowls, bring them top church some Sunday and the folks at Trinity can buy a bowl for $10 and Trinity can donate $500 to the local food bank.' To that she replied, "why 50 and why only Trinity?" I said, "Ok, 500 and to the whole town!" We Care Ministries, Inc., our local food bank had a nice facility but no food storage capabilities so for the first two years they saved the money and were able then to buy very large walk-in freezers and coolers so that they could store food and become a regional food center. Each year I make somewhere near 500 bowls for our local project and we have raised over $40,000 to fit hunger in Northwest Tennessee. Empty Bowls projects are local, grassroots activities. As my family has grown up and moved off I figured I have adopted St Louis as a part of my family experience so it seems only right that I should partner with Urban Eats to work with the community in fighting its hunger issues."

-David McBeth

"There is a story about a man who left this earth and was taken on a tour of the inner realms. He was shown a room where he saw a large group of hungry people trying to eat dinner, but because their spoons were longer than their arms, they were frustrated. "This," his guide told him, "is hell." "That's terrible," the man exclaimed. "Please show me heaven." "Very well," agreed the guide, and off they went. When they opened the door to heaven, the man was perplexed to see what looked like same scene: there was a group of people with spoons longer than their arms. But as he looked more closely, he saw happy faces and well-fed bodies, for there was one important difference: the people in heaven had learned to feed each other. (gtgb.wustl.edu)"


What Level of Poverty Does St. Louis Experience?

  • The latest statistics show that 41.3% of all children in St. Louis (city) were in families below the poverty level.

Childhood Hunger in St. Louis

  • 135,000 kids in St. Louis are at risk for hunger (U.S. Census Bureau 2010 stats). This represents enough children to fill Busch Stadium three times.
  • 85% of children enrolled in St. Louis Public Schools rely on free or reduced-cost meal programs.  Many of these kids go home where there is little or no food.
  • In 2011 St. Louis was ranked #65 out of the top 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, stating that 17.5% of the citizens of the St. Louis metro area experience daily food insecurity.

Wanda, St Anthony Food Pantry(SAFP), David McBeth, Lloyd, SAFP, Caya Aufiero, Urban Eats, John Chen, Urban Eats