Empty Bowls Santa Barbara How it all StartedEmpty Bowls History:

Empty Bowls was born in 1990 by John Hartom and his high school students in Bloomfield Hills, MI, as a way to support a food drive. They decided on making clay bowls for a fund-raiser, serving soup and bread in the handmade bowls. Each guest kept their personally picked bowl as a reminder of worldwide hunger.  In the next year, John and his wife Lisa Blackburn, developed Empty Bowls as a project to support food banks, soup kitchens and other organizations fighting hunger. Imagine/RENDER Group was formed as a nonprofit organization to promote Empty Bowls, and over the next decade Empty Bowls events were held across the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

How Empty Bowls Started in Santa Barbara:

In 1998 a student in Danyel Dean’s Adult Ed ceramics class visited another former student then living in Florida.  Laurie Potter, returned to the ceramics class and gave Danyel a flyer of an Empty Bowls event she had seen in Florida. Danyel’s first response was Santa Barbara is such a wealthy community, that’s not needed here.  A few months later, on March 20, 1998, the front page of the newspaper had an article telling about the work of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. Danyel was powerfully struck by the pervasive hunger in the Santa Barbara community, and started creating an Empty Bowls event in Santa Barbara. Danyel’s talents and experience were well positioned to ‘make it happen’. She had owned a local bakery and restaurants for 15 years, had taught ceramics sense 1976 and had been a potter since 1967.  Empty Bowls of Santa Barbara’s first event was held on November 1, 1998. With the help of Shanon Sedivy and a handful of other Ad Ed students the event was an overwhelming success.  The Empty Bowls Committee was developed, this group of women has helped the project grow with each annual event.

How Empty Bowls has Grown in Santa Barbara:

In addition to raising much-needed funds for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County, Empty Bowls of Santa Barbara has also greatly broadened the awareness of the huge need in Santa Barbara County to alleviate hunger. Each year Empty Bowls of Santa Barbara is sold out. The first year 600 bowls were donated and it raised over $17,000, in 2007, the 10th annual, over 1,400 bowls were donated and it raised over $120,000. The ability to raise so much is made possible by the wonderful sponsors that donate money and time, allowing the event to grow year.