About Us

Empty Bowls is a grassroots movement by local artists and craftspeople to raise money to feed the hungry in their communities. Empty Bowls supports food-related charitable organizations worldwide and has raised millions of dollars to help end hunger.

The Opelika-Auburn Empty Bowls Fundraiser began in 2014 when Sherie Spain, director of the pottery department at the Opelika Recreation Center, read about the event in Michigan. “I contacted the Food Bank, and they liked the idea,” said Sherie. “I thought it would be good to get both Opelika and Auburn pottery communities working together.”

“The Empty Bowls event allows us to select a lovely, hand-made bowl that serves a soup meal,” says Martha Henk, executive director of the East Alabama Food Bank, “but this small bowl represents more than simply my meal. By acquiring food through local donations and the national food bank network, every dollar given to the Food Bank enables us to distribute the equivalent of seven meals to people in need.”

While Opelika and Auburn alternate hosting the event every other year, potters from both groups create bowls for each event. When the Opelika potters held the event in 2020 they raised $21,000 for the Food Bank.

The City of Auburn, who hosted the event in 2021 recognized the need for and Empty Bowls program despite the fact that the nation was under overwhelming restrictions. For the first time ever the Food bank of East Alabama had to shift their operations in order to meet the pressing need of our community and the 2021 Empty Bowls would have to do the same. The City of Auburn recognized the vital importance of holding the event despite strict COVID restrictions. From limiting ticket attendance, to taking the event outdoors and proving soup to-go kits the event went forward. The City of Auburn along with local business, the Universities Fighting World Hunger group from Auburn University and the Lee County Master Gardeners were still able to raise over $12,000 during the hard COVID year.

The 9th annual Opelika-Auburn Empty Bowls in 2022 raised $45,500 between the Preview Party and Empty Bowls event.

Mission Statement

Opelika-Auburn Empty Bowls was established in 2014 by the Potters of Rocky Brook and the Auburn Dean Road Ceramics Studio to sell handcrafted bowls filled with soup, with the proceeds benefiting the Food Bank of East Alabama.

The purpose of the Opelika-Auburn Empty Bowls Advisory Board is to:

  1. Obtain donations from Corporate Sponsors and Individuals.
  2. Assist in marketing the Empty Bowls Event to the public.
  3. Assist with the sale of bowls.
  4. Plan fundraising opportunities, such as Silent Auctions and Preview Parties.
  5. Assist with the logistics of the actual Empty Bowls Event.
  6. Assist with recruiting volunteers and obtaining soup donations.
  7. Promote cooperation between the Opelika and Auburn hosts.
  8. Serve as an information resource for persons interested in the Empty Bowls Event, including maintaining a website and Facebook groups.
  9. Serve as liaison between the Opelika-Auburn Empty Bowls members and the Food Bank of East Alabama.
  10. Serve as liaison between the Opelika-Auburn Empty Bowls members and the city governing agents.