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Ending Hunger One Bowl At A Time


“Empty Bowls Detroit” raises money and awareness for the food program at Cass Community Social Services (CCSS), a Detroit-based agency dedicated to providing food, housing, health services, and job programs to those in need. Throughout the year, Empty Bowls Detroit hosts bowl painting workshops where members of the community including youth, church and corporate groups join in fellowship while painting bowls eventually displayed and used at our events. We hold two events each year:  A family event at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church and a 21+ event at Detroit's Historic Eastern Market. Both events feature soups and bread, cheese, crackers, fruit, and desserts, generously donated by local restaurants, grocers, and merchants. While socializing and feasting, attendees wander through tables of hand-painted bowls in search of the bowl to take home as a reminder that someone’s bowl is always empty. We are looking forward to great success at The Main Event on Friday, March 6, 2020. We look forward to seeing you and we thank you for your support!  

The History of The Empty Bowls Project

Founded in 1990 when Michigan art teacher John Hartom, and wife Lisa Blackburn, challenged his high school art students to make 120 ceramic bowls and a personal difference. Hartom's students accepted the challenge and made enough bowls for the entire school staff to use as serving pieces for soup at the school fundraiser. Guests were given basic information about hunger and, to their surprise, were asked to keep their bowls as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. The reaction of the staff was telling. Hartom and Blackburn realized something very powerful had occurred. What was to be a one-time luncheon became an international grassroots effort to help fight hunger, thus starting The Empty Bowls Project.

Empty Bowls Detroit began in 2007 at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church with a youth group of vacation campers that painted 100 bowls and raised $500. In 2017, 11 years since we began, Empty Bowls Detroit attracted more than 600 attendees and raised more than $35,000 for CCSS. None of this would be possible without our generous volunteers, donors and sponsors. All ‘personnel’ are unpaid volunteers and we are proud to declare that 100% of all net proceeds are passed on to CCSS to feed those in need.


Often joined by artisans, craftspeople, churches, schools, and youth groups, independent Empty Bowls events across the U.S. and Canada have raised millions of dollars in the fight against hunger. Regardless of the location, sponsors, and the bowls used, all events include a simple meal and a bowl to take home to remind us that someone's bowl is always empty.

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