These days, the Kiwanis Food Bank in Enumclaw assists up to 36 families a day.
That's up from the 10 to 15 clients that the resource typically sees, said Lynn Milholm, a volunteer at the bank.
"We see new people -- new families -- coming in every week," Milholm said, adding that the holidays will likely increase demand.
It's why Milholm is grateful that the local community has banded together in a new project called Empty Bowls, which is actually an international effort to fight hunger and raise funds for local food banks.
On Thursday, many members of the Enumclaw community, including Mayor Liz Reynolds, gathered in the pottery department at Green River Community College (GRCC) in Auburn along with students and faculty to kick-off the project with a "throw off" in which they throw (create) bowls from clay.
The goal was to create as many bowls as possible from 500 pounds of clay donated by in Enumclaw and Clay Art Center in Tacoma. The bowls will be for sale at a community event in March 2012 that aims to help the community to:
- Think globally: Come together to share a soup meal and then take home a bowl of their choice as a reminder of all empty bowls in the world that cannot be filled.
- Act locally: The proceeds from their participation will support those in need in the Enumclaw area, including Plateau Outreach Ministries and the Kiwanis Food Bank.
Reynolds, a clay artist herself, was one of the potters. "We, the society, have to be the change," she said while sculpting her clay into a bowl. She became committed to the Empty Bowls project through the local arts community, she said.
Hunger and poverty are not new issues, she said, but the community is more aware of it now than 10 years ago. As an artist, she said she remembered thinking "What can I do?" Turns out art -- pottery in this case -- can be the answer.
“It will be a good eye-opener for people,” said Amanda Skipworth, a student on the planning committee of the event who has been actively involved with Enumclaw area food banks since she was 14 years old.
Skipworth was guided by Paul Metivier, a GRCC ceramics instructor who said he sees the benefits of the pottery art form both in the classroom and the community: as his students gain experience in ceramics, they are also doing something fun for the good of others.
This throw off event perfectly illustrates this dynamic: people of the community come in for the event to use their hands, share stories and create something they're proud to donate, he said.
Mayor Reynolds, the GRCC Pottery Department, Enumclaw Kiwanis, Enumclaw Rotary, Plateau Outreach Ministries, Arts Alive! Center For the Arts, and the Enumclaw School District are among those who are serve on the Empty Bowls planning committee.
In the end, the potters on Thursday completed between 150 to 200 bowls. By March, organizers for the Empty Bowls project hope to have 400 bowls ready. They are also encouraging local craftsmen to donate bowls in order to reach that goal. Local restaurants looking to help are urged to donate soup during the March event.
That event takes place Friday, March 2, 2012 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Enumclaw High School commons area. Cost will be $20 per person.
Empty Bowls is looking for local artists to create and donate unique, hand- crafted bowls in any medium. They need not be functional for food, but will be symbols of the empty bowls in the community and those who go hungry every day. Deadline for bowls is February 14, 2012.
Empty Bowls is looking for sponsors to help offset the cost of presenting and promoting this event. The goal is to cover all costs so that 100% of the money raised at the event goes to feed the hungry. Donations can be cash or in-kind services. Sponsors at $500 level or greater will be recognized on all printed materials (logo or listing) and on the project website: www.emptybowlswa.org
FOOD & SERVING WARE
Empty Bowls is looking for local restaurants, caterers, bakers, businesses and individuals to provide the simple soup and bread meal as well as the utensils and ware needed to serve it.
Have time or talent to contribute? Empty Bowls needs folks to help coordinate, promote, and present this event. Prior-to or day-of, they can use helpful hands on a variety of tasks.