POULSBO — Months of work ended quickly — in only an hour and a half — with lots of full, warm bellies and awareness of hunger in our community.
In a way, the Empty Bowls fundraiser for North Kitsap Fishline, at Gateway Fellowship, began last fall, with people of all ages making bowls at the Americana Music Festival and Indi Studio to be given away at the Jan. 20 lunch.
It culminated here. As the 49ers played the Falcons for the NFC championship, local residents dined on chicken and autumn vegetable tangine, chipotle chili with black beans, and vegan Tuscan vegetable soup.
Folk singers Time and Tide entertained. Poulsbo City Council members Linda Berry-Maraist and Ed Stern served soup, provided at cost by Central Market. The event poster was donated by Blue Sky Printing. Time and Tide donated its performance.
Diners paid $15 for lunch and got to keep their bowl as a reminder that many people are, at that moment, hungry.
The event raised more than $3,000 for Fishline, executive director Mary Nader said. But she couldn’t put a price on the opportunity to talk to people about need in North Kitsap.
“Look across the room. They could have soup at home, but this event gives them a chance to express [their support for Fishline],” Nader said. “And it gives me an opportunity to talk about need in our community. Whenever I talk to someone about it, the information surprises them.”
In 2012, North Kitsap Fishline Food Bank put food on the tables of 1,953 households, up from 1,915 in 2011. Utility assistance rose in 2012 by 20 percent, from $26,272 helping 166 households to $30,870 helping 221 households.
Fishline helped 188 households with a rent or mortgage payment, and provided emergency housing for 61 households.
Miss West Sound Megan Leibold, a senior at Pacific Lutheran University, said we’re all one step away from need. She learned that as a volunteer at The Crossing, a Tacoma ministry that provided food and clothing to families in need.
Leibold talked to people there and heard their stories. “They didn’t make any mistakes. They were just dealt the wrong cards,” she said.
Fishline board member Caroline Perisho said the Empty Bowls fundraiser is patterned after the international end-hunger movement of the same name.
According to an entry on Wikipedia, art teacher John Hartom initiated Empty Bowls in 1990-91 when he joined a drive to raise charitable funds in his Michigan community. “Hartom’s idea was to organize a charitable event to give artists and art students a way to make a personal difference. Hartom’s students made ceramic bowls in their high school art classes. The finished products were then used as individual serving pieces for a fund-raising meal of soup and bread. Contributing guests kept the empty bowl. During the next year, Hartom and other participants developed this concept into ‘Empty Bowls’.”
“Everybody gives, and everybody gets something back,” Perisho said.
This year’s Empty Bowls painters included the North Kitsap High School pottery class, taught by Rande Anderson; Bainbridge potter Chris Bristah, who donated 40 bowls; Verksted Gallery; Indi Studio owner Susan Butler; and attendees of Poulsbo’s Americana Music Festival.