In 1990, a Michigan art teacher wanted to offer his ceramics class students an opportunity to help the local food bank and at the same time enlighten those students about the reality of hunger and food insecurity problems. He did so by coming up with the first Empty Bowl Project.

Since then, the project has made its way into almost all 50 states. For the third time, it became this area's project as the Granger United Methodist Church, 1235 Granger Road, teamed up with art teacher Joan Zacharias' fourth and fifth grade students at Granger Elementary School to make the bowls to be used in the church's Empty Bowl soup meal April 27.

Zacharis has taken several steps to teach the students about the crisis of hunger and food insecurity by showing them educational videos, engaging them in discussions, and inviting Feeding Medina County Executive Director Sandy Hinkle as a guest speaker. Hinkle explained how FMC is making a difference in the lives of children, families, and a growing senior population. These activities helped the students understand the difference they can make with their bowls.

Under the guidance of Zacharias, the students in the classes of fourth grade teachers Mrs. Hulin, Mrs. Walton, and Mrs. Lyons, and fifth grade teachers Mrs. Harner, Miss Lawson, and Mrs. Loch, crafted 156 delightfully colorful and creatively original bowls to be used for the Empty Bowl meal. Some teachers and some church members fashioned bowls as well, bringing the total to 184, said Bob Hummel, who chaired the event.

Zacharias, a 35-year art teacher in the Highland District, was recruited by Molly Adams to participate in this project, a cause Zacharias said she really likes. She also likes making things like the bowls, which are sturdy and useful, and are symbolic of a closer connection with God and the earth. She admits to liking to have her hands in the mud, too.

Local chefs and restaurants volunteered to make a wonderful variety of delicious soups: Dan's Dogs, potato bacon; Bob Evans/Medina Road, tomato Basil and Chicken Noodle; Twiisted, Italian Wedding; Thyme2, beer cheese; Public 17, cheddar bacon potato; Sully's Irish Pub, prime rib Philly; Corkscrew Saloon, chicken corn chowder; Serenite, split pea with ham; Cool Beans, beef stew; Bob Evans/Court Street, vegetable beef; Marie's Cafe, broccoli cheddar; and Chick-Fil-A, chicken noodle.

In addition to 70 bowl reservations that were made ahead of time, a supportive stream of people came and made donations of $5 to share the simple soup and bread meal; many also donated another $5 to purchase their bowls (there was a $20 maximum for dinner per family).

Several bowls made by Zacharias were also available for purchase; Zacharias donated the money to all the other proceeds from this event, to Feeding Medina County.

All who came to the simple meal were encouraged to take home their bowls as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world, as well as right here in Medina County.