Empty Bowls in ENC

Empty Bowls in New Bern

New Bern, NC – A national idea is taking shape in New Bern next week to help feed the hungry and showcase the talents of local artists. Stephen O'Connell has more.

The Annual Empty Bowls event is primarily focused on the art community and feeding Craven and surrounding counties hungry. You will be welcome to two servings of a tasty soup of your choice and bread. You will also be able to pick an attractive pottery bowl handcrafted by local artists. The event will feature live performances and a variety of other art will be for sale. Carol Tokarski is Executive Director of the Craven Arts Council.

"the money for both projects is shared between Religious Community Services in New Bern and the Craven Arts Council. Both are different but yet serve the community in very important ways."

She says that for the past three years the non-profit Craven Arts Council and Gallery and the Religious Community Services of New Bern have partnered to bring together the town for this unique lunch and diverse display of art.

"It's just a wonderful turnout. Local artists are doing small paintings that will be
put on the table at different times. So for 20 dollars you walk in you pick up your pottery bowl and you have soup."

Last year, Empty Bowls raised 19,000 dollars, selling about 700 bowls. This year they hope to sell 800. Encore, the craven community college choral group, is performing as well as a couple local bands. The money raised during the event is divided between the Craven Arts Council and Religious Community Services. RCS runs a food pantry initiative and a soup kitchen that serves a hot meal every day. Executive Director of RCS, Michael McMillan, says the non-profit is in constant need of funds so they can keep running their service, which provided 57,000 meals in 2011.

"it's a nice opportunity for people in the community to come and have a little bit of their
favorite soup and then a get to see a nice display of handcrafted bowls and artistry. And meet the artists that made them and talk to them. Take a piece home that is very unique and that has not been duplicated anywhere else."

A New Bern high school class is contributing a number of colorful bowls for the cause. McMillan says the family friendly event gives people the chance to sample freshly made soups from local cooks.

"the food is very good and you have 24 restaurants and churches all cooking their own
specialty soup. And the biggest decision somebody has to make is what soup am I going to have today. And those are nice choices to have to make."

Empty Bowls will take place from 11 am until 2 p.m. next Thursday, February 9 At Temple Baptist Church. The church is located on Kingdom Way, off Rhem Street. It promises cultural appreciation and an offering that gives a lot of people the meals they need to lead healthy lives.

"just turn out it's a great good warm feeling to come out and support two very worthy
organizations in the community and keep their programming going. Just come and enjoy. We'll be standing their handing out pottery and soup for a good three hours."

Stephen O'Connell Public Radio East.