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Culinary arts, ceramics come together to support homeless

Published: Friday, December 13, 2013

Updated: Friday, December 13, 2013 17:12


Janae Harris / The Advocate

A culinary arts student serves soup at the Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Bay Area Rescue Mission on Friday at the Three Seasons Restaurant.

The culinary arts department teamed up with ceramics students to host a charity event to combat hunger and food insecurity in the Three Seasons Restaurant on Friday.

Offering unique ceramic bowls, hot soups and the cozy confines of a festively decorated restaurant on a brisk December afternoon, the department was able to raise almost $1,000 for the Bay Area Rescue Mission in Richmond.

Between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. guests purchased handmade ceramic bowls of their choosing for $10 each, $5 for CCC students, and the empty bowls were filled with one of three soup options: clam chowder, cream of broccoli or pepper pot.

All food supplies were donated by local sponsors, such as US Foods and ACME Bread, and the bowls were donated by ceramics students from the art department. Refills on soups were free to anyone who purchased a bowl.

“I’m thrilled we’re having this event,” culinary arts assistant professor Elisabeth Schwarz said. “I love the concept of Empty Bowls.”

Schwarz explained that the handmade ceramic bowls guests chose from when first arriving are washed and returned to them to keep after their meal as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world, as well as a keepsake for their contribution to the Empty Bowls Project.

The Empty Bowls Project, which began in Michigan in 1991, has since manifested into a national effort to end hunger.

Eduardo Martinez, attendee and West Contra Costa Unified School District Budget Committee chairperson, said, “The soup is exquisite. I find it very appropriate that they served soup to benefit a soup kitchen.”

Martinez said he was pleased with the event overall and thoroughly enjoyed the two bowls of soup he ate.

Middle College High School student Samantha Elliott said the event was a great way for people to show support for those in the community faced with hunger and food insecurity in their day-to-day lives.

“It’s important for people to give back to the community,” Elliot said.

She tried the pepper pot, a Caribbean-style soup made with coconut milk and other spices, and said she enjoyed it very much.

Antonio Medrano, member of the WCCUSD Budget Committee, agreed that the soups were delicious and said he was pleased that the culinary arts department was hosting an event to benefit the Bay Area Rescue Mission.

“We don’t do enough for the disadvantaged and homeless in our community,” Medrano said.

He said that, especially during the holiday season when so many charities make their presences known, anyone seeking to donate or volunteer their services should research the charity they are planning to assist in order to avoid giving to groups that spend the majority of donations on overhead costs. Some groups merely contribute $0.05 of every dollar donated to their cause, with the remaining $0.95 going into the pockets of those coordinating the charity, he said, and anyone’s time or money would be better donated elsewhere.

“Be careful in choosing charities to support,” Medrano said. “Know how much money is actually being donated versus how much is being used for overhead. These are important questions to ask.”

Culinary arts department professor and Chairperson Nader Sharkes said there was a “fantastic turnout” and that there were easily more than 100 guests in attendance over the course of the three-hour event.

Sharkes said he was pleased with the soups the students chose to make, but in the future hopes to offer a wider variety.

“All of the soups were chosen by the students,” he said. “They were all done well, but I’d have preferred more variety, as all of the soups were cream-based.” 

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