OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - Over in East Alabama, city organizations are addressing the issue of food insecurity in the community, especially during COVID-19.
The annual Auburn-Opelika Empty Bowls event happened in an outdoor COVID-friendly setting at Kiesel Park this weekend. The event is an ongoing effort to combat hunger in the area.
The bowls serve as a symbol of many individuals who have empty bowls due to food insecurity.
“This is a grassroots effort - which means it’s personal. Which means it’s one on one, which means people are helping people. And at the end of the day, that’s really the best way we can help one another,” said Ron Anders, Mayor of Auburn, AL.
This is part of Dean Road Ceramics Studio and the City of Opelika’s Denson Drive Recreation Center’s annual Empty Bowls event this weekend - a community gathering that raises money for the East Alabama Food Bank.
“We thought, should we even do it? How can we do it? Should we cancel it? And one of the big factors that we thought about is that the food bank needs money. And they need funds,” said Emilie Dombrowski, organizer of the event.
So, how does the event work? Local Auburn and Opelika potters make the empty bowls - attendees get to choose their bowl and grab a to-go soup in exchange for a donation to the food bank.
“There’s such a need in this area, there’s so many food insecure people. And the food bank just does an amazing job getting food out,” said Amy Kaiser, a potter at Dean Road Ceramics.
Close to 200 people came to support. Because of the pandemic, the event had to be outside and could not be a sit-down event like normal.
“One of the big concepts of empty bowls is that they pick the bowl and then they eat soup out of the bowl, and so we knew we couldn’t do that. So we kind of split and decided we would do dry soup and wet soup to go,” said Dombrowski.
But, attendees said they were excited and pleased with the event despite the change.
“We can’t volunteer much because of the pandemic and certain risk factors that we have, such as age, but this is one thing we can do,” said Bonna Cornett, an attendee.
“Every donation of the bowl feeds over a hundred people. So, every time you look at that bowl hopefully you think that. Like, I contributed, I helped my community,” said Dombrowski.
Potters made 520 bowls and the bowls that were not picked up this weekend will be sold at the Jan Dempsey Community Arts Center in Auburn Monday morning for a $20 donation.