Thirteen years ago Bonnie Mellos created a program at her church to give back to the community through bowl painting.  That year they raised $500 for Gleaners Food Bank.  Today Empty Bowls Detroit is one of the most sought after charity events in the city.  

Bonnie: We are raising funds and awareness for the food program at Cass Community Social Services and 100 percent of the money that we raise is donated to their program.  One in six families has food insecurity issues so if we can make a difference our motto is to end hunger one bowl at a time.  Last year we raised $175,000.

Mitch: Wow that’s a lot from $500

Bonnie: That’s a lot from $500

Mitch: The bowls must be getting better

Bonnie: They are. 

Bonnie hosts bowl painting workshops throughout the year where supporters’ paint bowls that will be auctioned off at the annual charity event at Eastern Market.  Celebrities like Isaiah Thomas, Martha Reeves, Alice Cooper and countless others have gotten in on the action.  I even had the privilege of painting a bowl myself.

Bonnie: Last year we produced about 1500 bowls and many of the bowls have stories that go with them and that has been a really fun part of the event itself.

Mitch: So you really use the bowl as a metaphor as well as a real life symbol right?

Bonnie: That’s correct.  People love the ability to give back and we have a message in each of the bowls that goes home with everybody so that they are aware that this in an opportunity to raise their awareness that someone’s bowl is always empty that their donation is giving back to an organization that fights against hunger.

Mitch: And fills bowls for other people.

Bonnie: And fills bowls for other people yeah.

Who knew that painting a bowl could make such an impact.  Bonnie Mellos and Empty Bowls Detroit is working to end hunger one bowl at a time right here in the heart of Detroit.

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