Olivia Eafano paints a bowl for the Georgia Mountain Food Bank’'s Annual Empty Bowl Lunch as part of an Artistic/Creative Imagination Honors Seminar. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)
Olivia Eafano paints a bowl for the Georgia Mountain Food Bank'’s Annual Empty Bowl Lunch as part of an Artistic/Creative Imagination Honors Seminar. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Honors Students Take Part in Empty Bowl Lunch Fundraiser

Sep. 26, 2017
Kristen Bowman

Each fall, the Georgia Mountain Food Bank hosts its biggest fundraiser of the year, and Brenau University lends a hand to the nonprofit’s effort.

The Empty Bowl Lunch was held Tuesday, Sept. 26, at First Baptist Church in Gainesville, where guests enjoyed bowls of soup and salad and picked up an empty bowl of their own to take home. This year, some of those bowls were painted by students in an honors seminar at Brenau.

“This is the artistic/creative imagination honors seminar,” said Sandy Brim, assistant professor of English. “I’ve known about Empty Bowl for a couple of years, but I’ve never been able to go because I teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays almost always at that time. So it occurred to me when I started teaching this class that I could connect the two.”

According to the food bank, one in five Georgians is hungry. The Georgia Mountain Food Bank has partner agencies in a five-county area, providing a link between sources of food supplies and these agencies who get food into the hands of families and individuals in need.

“It’s just so important to let students know this is a problem here,” Brim said. “Chances are, these students have never gone hungry. We don’t know what that’s really like. I did have a student a couple years ago who seemed perfectly healthy and fine, but her family had been homeless before. You never know.”

The Brenau honors students – ranging from freshmen to seniors – had the choice of either paying for their supplies and cost of the bowls, or getting a sponsor. “We had a great response,” Brim said. “A lot of faculty and staff helped by sponsoring them.”

Phil Dennis, community engagement coordinator for the food bank, said he works with volunteers like these Brenau students throughout the year. He and Brim are already discussing plans for the 2018 lunch.

“I think we’ve probably painted close to 800 bowls this year,” Dennis said. “We’ll have more than 1,300 at the lunch for people to come through and chose.”

Freshman tech-theater major Madison Kaufman from Peachtree Corners, Georgia, sketched koi fish on her bowl and painted them against a dimensional, watery background.

“I think they’re pretty,” Kaufman said. “I love doing stuff like this. I love painting and drawing. So I would love doing this project anyway, but it’s special and rare to find an organization that takes artistic ability and translates it directly into charity. So I was really excited to find out about this. I always want to help.”

Her classmate Marlee Causey agreed. According to the food bank, every dollar raised by the fundraiser pays for five meals, she said.

“Helping with this project, for me, feels like I’m helping directly for once,” said Causey, a freshman English major from Moultrie, Georgia. “Instead of just wanting to help, I’m taking initiative and really doing something. It’s nice to know there are direct effects from this project.”

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