Empty Bowls educates, unites

Communal gathering sheds light on food insecurity


Noah Orloff

Senior Will Staib helps out during Empty Bowls Feb. 28 at Westwood Lutheran Church. Co-chair Lisa Hertel said the large attendance numbers were surprising.

Noah Orloff and Adin Zweigbaum

While Empty Bowls planning committee co-chair Lisa Hertel reflected on the goals of the event, she said communal bonding was a main aspiration of Empty Bowls.

“Our number one purpose in doing Empty Bowls is to bring the community together,” Hertel said. “I would say that Empty Bowls in St. Louis Park is like the Super Bowl of bringing the community together. It’s a supercharged way of bringing neighbors together with other neighbors.”

Senior volunteer Jake Olson said Empty Bowls, a St. Louis Park Emergency Program (STEP) event which took place Feb. 28 at Westwood Lutheran Church, can improve St. Louis Park in multiple ways.

“I think what it’s doing for the community is very helpful, not only as people get to come together, but we get to help people who actually need help, and I think that’s an amazing thing to do as a community,” Olson said.

Hertel said Empty Bowls allows those in attendance to learn about various issues within the community, further inspiring residents to get involved.

“In St. Louis Park a lot of people might not be aware of that invisible layer of hunger, but it’s there. It’s pervasive,” Hertel said. “So when people come (to Empty Bowls) and support each other and learn about hunger in St. Louis Park, it kind of ignites a fire and then everyone’s more engaged with the good work of STEP year-round in addition to this specific event. It’s almost like its a catalyst.”

According to Hertel, the turnout during dinner was thrilling, outnumbering past years.

“I am blown away. For the evening count, I am quite certain we (were) over last year’s numbers, and the lunch count (was) about the same as last year,” Hertel said.

According to Olson, he had previously been to Empty Bowls, but this year assisted throughout a majority of the event.

“This is the first time I’ve worked the entirety of the event, but this seems like it is a much larger turnout than I have seen in the past years,” Olson said.

Junior Svea Bleske said attending Empty Bowls was eye-opening.

“I think it’s a good cause., You don’t really think about the cause until you’re actually eating (out of) a bowl, and you realize how much you take things for granted with having food on the table and clothes and all the necessities,” Bleske said.