The Natchez Democrat, Miss., Ben Hillyer column
Jan 11, 2013 (The Natchez Democrat - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
An empty bowl is a happy bowl.
When I heard this from a friend and father of three, I realized how true that statement is in my own house.
There is nothing more frustrating for me than staring at a plate full of food that my son refuses to eat.
While I don't necessarily belong to the "clean your plate" club, and I have yet to use the "there are other people in the world who are starving" tactic, I do want my child to eat food that is both healthy and balanced.
I know he would clean his plate if it were filled with potato chips, cookies and ice cream. The meatloaf and vegetables can be a harder sell sometimes.
Getting him to eat without being distracted by his toys, a computer or even his own imagination can be a battle some evenings.
That is why an empty bowl in our house is cause for celebration.
Unfortunately, there are places where an empty bowl is not a celebration. These are places where hunger is a daily reality -- where a plate of meatloaf and vegetables is a dream.
In my world of abundance, where candy falls like manna at every parade, it is hard to realize that there are those who pray each day for crumbs.
Unlike those starving children in China my parents spoke about over my childhood dinner table, there are many in our own community whose bowls are empty and bellies are hungry.
That is why Natchez Clay continues to host its Empty Bowls fundraiser every two years.
This February's event will be the third one in which I have participated. The event raises money for the Natchez Stewpot.
Using their hands and simple lumps of clay, area potters have produced a stunning array of bowls ready to raise awareness of hunger right here in our small community, our nation and the entire world.
The idea is a simple one. Buy a ticket for $25 and you get to pick out a bowl and have it filled with delicious gumbo or soup donated by the Sandbar restaurant. Afterward, you get to take the bowl home with you.
A popular saying from the loosely organized Empty Bowls effort is that keeping the bowl is a reminder of the many empty bowls that go unfilled every day.
Started in 1990 in Michigan, Empty Bowls has become a international grass roots success story. Each event across the world is independent and is organized to fit the needs of its specific community.
The Natchez Clay Empty Bowls project started eight years ago and has raised more than $30,000 in that time.
All of the time and material it took to create the wide array of bowls is donated by the potters and Natchez Clay. All of the food and its preparation is donated, as well.
One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the Natchez Stewpot, an organization that has been serving meals to the needy in our community for more than 20 years.
They currently serve more than 200 people each day of the year.
This year's event will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 10 at Natchez Clay at 101 Clifton Ave.
This year potters from New Orleans have joined the cause and donated 100 handmade bowls for the event.
Tickets are on sale at the Natchez Coffee Company for $25.
So, buy a ticket, enjoy some good food and help make the empty bowl you select a happier and less hungry reality for someone else in our community.
Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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(Natchez, Miss.) at www.natchezdemocrat.com Distributed by MCT Information
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