Bowl-ing for hunger


OBSERVER Staff Writer

Various potters and artists from all across the local area are once again getting their hands dirty to fight hunger.

Fourteen members of the Chautauqua Area Potters recently gathered together at Ron Nasca’s Mudslingers Art Studio on Water Street in the village of Fredonia for a “bowling party” of sorts.

Their goal was to create over 100 one-of-a-kind, ceramic bowls for this year’s Empty Bowls Fundraiser in early December. The potters are hoping to make 1,000 bowls in total and are continuing that push up until the day of the event.

“We were able to raise $20,000 last year for the event, which brought over 600 people,” local Empty Bowls coordinator Marv Bjurlin said. “Here in Fredonia-Dunkirk, we’re incredibly successful to raise as much (raised) in Syracuse.”

Bjurlin is a retired SUNY Fredonia professor who had his students participate in an Empty Bowls event on campus.

“When the students started it (over 15 years ago), we raised $500,” he said. “After we moved it off campus when I retired, we made $5,000 in the first year.”

Empty Bowls is an international project dedicated to fighting hunger. At the community level, artists donate their time and energy, along with various materials, to make bowls that are then sold, with lunch provided, to raise money for the cause.

“We were blessed to have Lake Shore Savings and Loan, among others, donate the clay, materials and the lunch ingredients,” Bjurlin said. “This phenomena occurs among potters around the world and the nation and a calendar of all the Empty Bowls events is maintained on the Empty Bowls website (”

According to the website, one out of every eight Americans struggle with food insecurity every day.

All the bowls are donated anonymously and are either done entirely by hand or with a potter’s wheel. The Empty Bowls insignia, a small bowl, is imprinted inside the bowl to remind their owners there are people out there whose bowls truly are empty.

The fundraiser will be held Saturday, Dec. 7 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Blessed Mary Angela (St. Hedwig’s) Social Center, 324 Townsend St., Dunkirk. During that time, people may come to purchase the homemade bowls in $10, $20 and $30 sizes (or a suggested minimum donation). They will then be treated to homemade soups prepared by culinary arts students at the BOCES LoGuidice Center, as well as bread, coffee and cookies. Live music, courtesy of ensembles from the college, will also be provided.

Bjurlin said a special seven-sided form is being used on some of the bowls to represent seven years of having soup at the event.

One hundred percent of the money raised will go to local food pantries, including the Chautauqua County Rural Ministry, which are helping to feed the hungry.

For more information on the event, go to or call Mudslingers at 672-6833.

Comments on this article may be sent to