Southeast Students and Faculty Raise Awareness for Cape Girardeau’s Hunger Issues

Some of this year's bowls painted by Southeast students for the 10th annual Empty Bowls event.

Some of this year’s bowls painted by Southeast students for the 10th annual Empty Bowls event.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Oct. 23, 2015 – The 10th Annual Empty Bowls event supporting the Salvation Army’s efforts to fight hunger locally will be held from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 1, at the Salvation Army Worship and Community Center.

Tickets for the event are $12, which can be purchased at the door, and participants receive a soup meal and a handmade pottery bowl of their choice.

Dr. Anne Marietta, associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at Southeast Missouri State University, says the community-wide event is to increase awareness of hunger issues in the Cape Girardeau area.

“The intent is whenever they use their bowl they will remember there are people that go hungry in Cape Girardeau,” said Marietta.

Marietta helped organize Cape Girardeau’s first Empty Bowls event in 2005, and each year brings her experience and students to build and grow the event.

All proceeds benefit the Salvation Army, and Marietta estimates $57,000 has been donated since 2005.

“The Salvation Army is a wonderful place where they do such good work for those in need,” said Marietta.

Linda Bohnsack, co-chairwoman of the event and owner of Artisan Gifts, spearheads the bowls’ creation and storage. She works directly with the Salvation Army and Southeast’s faculty and student volunteers.

Bohnsack appreciates the help students and faculty have provided over the years and the University’s encouragement and support of students’ volunteering in the community.

“We definitely have been blessed with the students’ involvement over the years,” said Bohnsack, a 1975 Southeast graduate. “We get the benefit of their enthusiasm.”

Many students become attached to the bowls they paint and often purchase them.

“This is a way for them to get involved and really own a part of their commitment,” she said.

This year approximately 600 bowls will be available to purchase and are made entirely by local potters and painted by community members and volunteers.

Caroline Kahler, chair of Southeast’s Department of Art, has participated in Empty Bowl events for over 15 years since her time at Wichita State University and believes the event helps faculty and students have an impact outside of the university setting.

“It’s an opportunity to have a different kind of communication about the people of our community,” said Kahler.

This year, Kahler made 30 bowls, and students from two of her classes help paint many of the bowls made by Bohnsack and other local artisans.

Marietta has her students participate for educational and charitable reasons.

“I hope they get to see a program about hunger and one solution,” she said. “They get the opportunity to learn how people in a community can come together and help one another.”

This year, Southeast students are preparing and serving two kinds of soup, bread and dessert.

“I think this is a way to see how we can really help out the community,” said Zach Leonard, a Southeast dietetics major.

Leonard says his class with Marietta focuses on the needs of the community, and Empty Bowls gives him the hands on experience of how to address food insecurity in southeast Missouri.

The interaction her students have with community members and organizations prepares her students for their future careers.

“A lot of dietetic jobs are funded by our government,” said Marietta.

Working with those in need and those who can help gives her students a better understanding to create successful community nutrition programs, she said.

Kahler has seen how student participation in Empty Bowls can have an effect on several communities. Many of her former students have started their own Empty Bowl events in their own communities after graduating.

When students are involved they see the impact they can have beyond their own families and for the needs of others throughout their community, said Kahler.

Bowls will also be available for purchase at the 45th Annual Christmas Arts and Crafts Extravaganza Nov. 21 and 22 in the Osage Center and the Show Me Center.

Tickets for Empty Bowls are available for purchase at the door noon to 2 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Salvation Army Worship and Community Center, 701 Good Hope. For more information, contact Dr. Anne Marietta at (573) 651-2733 or