Ceramic bowls

Central Arizona College art students make hundreds of bowls in preparation for the annual Empty Bowls event.

SIGNAL PEAK — Beautiful handmade bowls, savory soups and decadent desserts, all made by Central Arizona College students, come together Tuesday for the Empty Bowls event that showcases student talents while raising money for the hungry.

“It’s an amazing event,” said Amanda Potts, teacher and division chair who oversees the school’s Culinary Arts Department. “We have a great time.”

For nearly 20 years, CAC has hosted the fundraiser, in which attendees pay a minimum $10 donation and receive a handmade ceramic bowl filled with soup.

The event combines the talents of hundreds of students in the school’s visual and culinary arts departments as well as those in the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America program and in Hotel and Restaurant Management programs.

CAC ceramists make food-safe stoneware bowls for the event. The school’s culinary arts students will prepare five types of soup, bread and six types of cakes.

Students in the Hotel and Restaurant Management program will create a signature “mocktail” for the event. FCCLA students are organizing donations of raffle items.

About 800 people attend the event every year.

Empty Bowls is a worldwide grass roots initiative that began in 1990 to help fight hunger. Since CAC adopted the concept, it’s become a community event, attracting students, faculty, staff and area residents and raising thousands of dollars to fight hunger.

Money raised is donated to local food banks.

Students will make about 30 gallons of soup for the event, including at least one vegan variety. Other types of soup will likely be a chicken tortilla, pozole and other varieties, Potts said.

Students will make and decorate 25 cakes, including a lemon pound cake, dark chocolate and peppermint, a cheesecake, red velvet and white cake.

“We try to have a variety of soups and cakes that will please everyone,” Potts said.

While students will make some of the bread for the event, Safeway also donates some.

“The event has grown so large over the years so it’s nice to have some of the bread donated,” Potts said.

Sarah McLaughlin, professor of studio art at CAC, said students make about 700 ceramic bowls each year for the event.

“Most bowls are made by being thrown on the wheel in one of our two ceramics studios located at our Signal Peak and Superstition Mountain campuses,” she said. “They are a combination of pieces made mostly by students, some by instructors and others by community members.”

While the event highlights the work of students and brings awareness to the fact that there are hungry people in the community, it also raises money for families.

“Last year alone, we were able to donate slightly over $5,000 to three local food banks and we hope to beat that number this year,” McLaughlin said.

When attendees take the bowls home after the event, McLaughlin said she hopes people display the ceramic pieces in their homes.

“We hope that every time they look at or use the bowl, they will think of how they have contributed to ending hunger and will be inspired to continue to support the arts,” she said.

The event begins at 11 a.m. on Tuesday in the Sizer N Building courtyard, 8470 N. Overfield Road.

Empty Bowls is sponsored by CAC arts and culinary arts programs, Marjon Inc., Laguna Clay and Vrana Law Firm.


Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.

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