Help by the Bowlful

Writer Amanda Christmann

Photography Courtesy of Sonoran Arts League

It’s a startling statistic. As you read this, one in six of our Arizona neighbors is facing food insecurity, struggling each month to choose between paying bills and stocking the refrigerator with enough food to feed themselves and their children.

The face of hunger has changed dramatically in recent years. 

Seniors on fixed incomes, many whom arrived at retirement age just as the bottom of the stock market dropped out in 2008, find themselves having to decide whether to buy groceries or pay for vital medications. 

A growing number of our neighbors find themselves in the encompassing category of “working poor.” Though they get up each day and go to work-sometimes multiple jobs-they still don’t make enough money to cover basic costs of living. One car repair, rent increase, or medical emergency can put them into a spiral of debt that can take months or years to recover from.

Thankfully, there are plenty of us willing to pitch in when the going gets tough. Among them are the artists, planners, students and volunteers of Cave Creek’s annual Empty Bowls project.

Each year, dozens of talented artists and friends of Sonoran Arts League create and donate a remarkable variety of bowls to Foothills Empty Bowls Lunch & Art Auction. The bowls are auctioned off in an online auction that began Sept. 3. These stunning bowls will continue to be created throughout the month of September, leading up to the big event.

October 8, in coordination with World Hunger Day, you can show your support by attending a luncheon at Harold’s Corral in Cave Creek. Harold’s will serve what is sure to be one of the most mindful meals of the year in the ceramic and glass bowls. 

Additional artwork donated by the event’s dedicated artists will be auctioned, and 100% of the proceeds will go to Foothills Food Bank.

Individuals are encouraged to donate $15 to the cause and select their own unique bowl made by Arizona artists, and keep it as a lasting reminder of world-and local-hunger.

It’s the 19th season of that area residents have pitched in to make a difference through Empty Bowls, which was originally conceived by resident Carol Perry.

Where Does It Go?

For many people, including elderly neighbors and children, Foothills Food Bank and Resource Center is one of the most important assets of our community. 

In July of this year, the food bank had already served nearly 5,000 people, providing over 89,000 pounds of food, 2,200 lunches and weekend meals for area children, and providing over $42,000 in temporary help so that people could pay rent, medical bills, utility bills, gasoline, and other bills that would have otherwise been crippling.

As housing prices and costs of living continue to rise, the need for help is only expected to increase. No one should have to live their lives struggling to meet end’s meet. The constant feeling of not being able to pay for some of their basic bills like electricity, water, and any other expenses is heartbreaking. Whether this help comes from the authorities or friends and family, or if they’re pointed in the direction of something like these Direct Energy plans to learn more about how to cut down on the price of their electricity, every little helps, and it can go a long way in helping people to live a fulfilled life. And the food bank is already taking great strides to make this happen.

“This has always been an amazing event with a great turnout,” said Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center executive director Pam DiPietro. 

“Since the Great Recession of 2008, the lines at food banks have continued to grow longer, including persons who formerly donated to those food banks,” she added. “Emergency food providers are stretching to a breaking point. These are just some of the needs that we can address together.”

Empty Bowls Art Auction

Through 1 p.m. Oct. 18 |

Empty Bowls Luncheon

Harold’s Corral | 6895 E. Cave Creek Rd., Cave Creek | 11 a.m.–1 p.m. | $15 donation |

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