In the 15 years since Empty Bowls has been held in Odessa, University of Texas of the Permian Basin art professor Chris Stanley said he does not count how many bowls have been made or sold.
“Here’s my thing: I don’t count,” Stanley said. “Then if you count, then you start to get an expectation and expectations lead to anxiety. This event has always been about people wanting to get together to solve hunger in our community.”
The annual Empty Bowls fundraiser is held, with all proceeds going to the West Texas Food Bank, a nonprofit hunger relief organization that helps provide food to those in need in 19 counties across West Texas.
The bowls provided are created by students, children, and community members in organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of Odessa, Odessa College, and UTPB. Stanley helps the process by using a kiln to help finish the bowls.
The bowls are then sold at the event for $10 per person, and the money also pays for soup, bread, and a drink; donated by Catfish and Company.
Attendees stay to eat and then get to keep the bowls afterwards. This year’s event is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Oct. 1, Stanley said, to help avoid conflicts with other events in the area.
The event is not exclusive to Odessa, as the Empty Bowls program is an international grassroots effort to raise money and awareness about hunger.
Libby Campbell, executive director of the food bank, said each dollar donated helps feed four people, and the $10 admission can help feed about 40 people.
As the oil industry has taken a decline from previous years and hovers around $40 a barrel, Campbell said the organization has seen more people coming to them for assistance.
“Not everyone can go work 70 hours a week,” Campbell said, adding they also saw people during the boom because of high rent prices. “The boom is a beautiful thing … but not everyone gets to take advantage of it.”