Since 2009, Lori DeMark, an art instructor at Harmony Middle School in Hamilton, has been working with her students to raise awareness about hunger issues in the community by organizing an Empty Bowls dinner event to benefit the Western Loudoun Food Pantry.

The Empty Bowls Project was first conceived in 1990 by John Hartom, an art teacher in Michigan. The idea was to organize a charitable event to give artists and art students a way to make a personal difference.

In the past, the school partnered with local artists who taught the students how to make ceramic bowls which were used at the Empty Bowls dinner. In addition, the artists donated some of their own work to the cause.

This year, due to the pandemic, they were not able to host the event, so the classes brainstormed and came up with an idea to create Empty Bowls soup recipe cards, DeMark said.

Eighth grade students created imagery to raise awareness about world hunger, which was printed on cards opposite a soup recipe researched by students in the eighth grade Family and Consumer Science classes led by teacher Christy Hendrickson.

The cards are now for sale online with the proceeds going to the food pantry.

Over the past twelve years, the project has raised over $20,000 for the food pantry. The school has partnered with numerous artists in the community to create over 2,000 bowls and local restaurants who donated soup for the dinner event.

DeMark says that the Empty Bowl project has evolved into a meaningful Project Based Learning opportunity focusing on world hunger.

“One important goal was for students to find a way to raise awareness about hunger during the pandemic,” DeMark said.

“Another goal was to create art to share with the community, by students creating bowls in previous years to illustrations this year for the recipe cards their creations will be admired and remembered for years to come. Each time someone picks up a bowl from Harmony’s Empty Bowl Project or decides to make a soup using one of the recipe cards we again raise awareness about hunger,” DeMark added.

The set of 21 Soup Recipe Cards are currently for sale for $20 through May 31 with all proceeds go to the Western Loudoun Food Pantry in Lovettsville.

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