A fundraiser in Gering aims to combat food insecurity one bowl of soup at a time. This collaboration between The Mixing Bowl, Gering Bakery and Der Topfer Gallery and Studio will raise money to benefit the Potter’s Wheel Food Bank.
Their Empty Bowls fundraiser lasts from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 19. Customers at the Mixing Bowl will be able to donate $20 in exchange for creamy potato, vegetable beef or roasted squash chili soups. They will also receive dinner rolls provided by Gering Bakery.
What makes the Empty Bowl fundraiser unique is what happens before and after customers eat their soup. Beforehand, they can pick from a wide variety of handmade bowls. When they’re done with their meal, the bowl is theirs to keep.
“Then they’ll get their bowl washed and they can take it home with them to either use or display or re-gift,” potter Jess McDonald said. “... It’s all one-of-a-kind artwork that they’re able to purchase and it’s all going to a really good cause.”
Der Topfer’s Rod Clause approached Jaime Meisner, owner of the Mixing Bowl, about the idea. He had heard about similar fundraisers in Colorado. Meisner and her husband had previously taken some pottery classes taught by Clause. With a history of donating food for various programs, they supported the idea.
A group of around eight potters under Clause’s tutelage crafted the bowls in preparation for the fundraiser.
“Several other artists take classes from Rod here, and we decided this was an important thing we wanted to do,” McDonald said. “So we started making bowls. And we made lots of them.”
By Veterans Day, the group had made 65 bowls. Some are wide, others deep. Many, but not all, have decorative designs. A few of the bowls even have handles.
“I think we have a bowl for every person. If they want something, we’ve got it covered,” McDonald said.
Different styles pair well with different types of kitchen decor. The bowls will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis, so Clause and McDonald recommended people arrive early.
Since this will be the first such fundraiser in the area, Clause said there was some concern as to whether they made enough bowls for everyone who wants to get one. McDonald said she’d like to see the Empty Bowl event become an annual occasion. The potters will be able to craft an optimal amount of bowls next time depending on this year’s turnout.
The day after the fundraiser, Potter’s Wheel will be holding their second annual Holiday Food Drive. On Saturday, Nov. 20, representatives from the ministry will be at Main Street Market, Safeway and Fresh Foods to collect items. Ideal foods to donate include canned and boxed goods, instant rice and potatoes and baking ingredients.
“They provide a lot of food, and food insecurity is a big deal in this area. So it’s a natural pairing ... to have them benefit from the work that we’re doing, and hopefully we’ll be raising a lot of funds for it,” McDonald said.
Through September 2021, the Potter’s Wheel food pantry has served more than 5,400 individuals and has provided more than 100,000 pounds of food. For their inaugural Holiday Food Drive in 2020, they raised $2,400 and received 3,100 pounds of food as donations.
“It’s really important,” Meisner said in an email, “for events like these to help areas in our community that people may not realize there is a need for, even in our own backyards.”