Students hope Empty Bowls will help

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Photo by Brian Giandelone

COVINGTON -- Several Eastside High School groups are hoping to benefit the Covington Community Food Pantry this year with the annual chili dinner and fundraiser.

For the third year, the school is holding an Empty Bowls dinner event -- art students have hand crafted bowls in which they will serve homemade chili to raise money and awareness for the food bank.

"Empty Bowls is an international grassroots movement that began in 1990," said Whitney Panetta, a visual arts teacher at EHS who is helping to organize this year's event. "It was created by a high school teacher who wanted to get his art students involved in the canned food drive at their school. Since it began, schools worldwide have participated in the event, raising awareness and millions of dollars for the fight against hunger."

In 2008, an art teacher at EHS heard about the program and wanted to start the tradition, which is continuing this year.

"The purpose of the dinner is to raise awareness about hunger, and the bowl is meant to be a reminder about those who cannot afford a good meal," Panetta said. "Despite the event being hosted on an international level, all of the proceeds we raise are donated locally, and this year we are donating to the Covington Food Bank."

The school's art club and visual arts classes have been making the bowls, choosing art work to display at the event and organizing other aspects of the event; the school's Junior Service Guild also is providing dessert for the dinner. Art students also made nonfunctional bowls out of magazines to be used as decorations.

Hugh Waters, a special education teacher at EHS who enjoys art and cooking in his spare time, is making the chili this year, as he has done in the past.

"It tastes amazing," Panetta said. "We love to get as many people in our school involved, and we were pleased that he wanted to help out again."

The event also will feature a raffle and a silent auction. Items include a Wal-Mart gift card, a handmade teapot, bowls and platters and photography, among others.

Several student bands and performers also will entertain, including students Ace Cook and Matt Garcia who wrote a song for the dinner last year and will perform it again this year.

Empty Bowls will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday at the school, which is located at 10245 Eagle Drive in Covington. The event is open to the public.

"Not only does it support a local food pantry, but it also supports the Eastside art department," Panetta said. "It gives the community a chance to see all of the hard work the students put into the dinner and their artwork."

The event costs $10, which includes the food and the handmade bowl. Proceeds will benefit the Covington Community Food Pantry. Last year, the event raised $800, and the school hopes to raise more this year.

"Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and this is a chance to give to the community and help a family have a Thanksgiving they may not have had otherwise," Panetta said. "You won't be able to find handmade ceramics this cheap anywhere else."