Each year, Pewabic hosts an Empty Bowls fundrasier in support of Gleaners Community Food Bank. Julie Ptasznik of Gleaners shines her light on this partnership.

Julie PtasznikIt is my pleasure to, again, work on the Pewabic Empty Bowls event to benefit Gleaners Community Food Bank. As a Gleaners employee, I have worked with Pewabic for over 10 years, and it has been an amazing partnership. We raised over $10,000 last year and Gleaners provided 30,000 meals with that money. We are hoping for another fantastic fundraiser!

The fundraising event is a sale of donated ceramic bowls to support Gleaners, and the purchased bowls are accompanied with a complimentary lunch of soup and bread donated by local restaurants and bakeries. At the core, this is a simple event but the people that get involved make it so special – the students and artists donate the bowls, the restaurants and bakeries donate the soup and bread, the volunteers that donate their time, and the guests that attend.

Gleaners volunteer serving soup to Empty Bowls donor.

Pewabic collects 200 bowls for the event, and the bowls range in price from $5-30. There are some limits to bowl purchasing, so that everyone gets a chance to have a bowl. Many guests have a hard time finding just one bowl that they love. I think that each bowl is a treasure, especially since I really like items that are unique, beautiful, and functional.

Guests carefully picking out their favorite handmade bowls.

This is one of my favorite lunches of the year! Typically, 6-8 local restaurants donate a variety of great soups. We usually have 1 seafood, 1-3 beef, 1-3 chicken, and 1-2 vegetarian including a vegan soup by Russell Street Deli. Russell Street Deli will again donate!

We have 2 bread donors this year, Bona-Ventures Bread, they sell their bread at Eastern Market and at local events to raise money for Gleaners. Bona-Ventures is a volunteer operation. Right now, from January to April, these folks take a break from selling at the market. So this event is a great chance to purchase their bread during the off-season. Julian Bros in Royal Oak stepped up to provide bread to this amazing event too.

I couldn’t do this event without my team of 15 volunteers. They pick-up soup donations, make sure that everything stays organized, pour soups, greet and assist guests, and clean-up at the end. If there is soup leftover from this event, one of my volunteers will take the leftover soup to a local soup kitchen for dinner that evening.

Gleaners volunteers setting up for Empty Bowls.

During the event, I work with the volunteers to serve lunch, and I love checking out all the different bowls that guests purchased. I also get a chance to interact with a good number of the guests and find many of them have such a great energy to support Gleaners. I look forward to seeing you at Pewabic Pewabic Pottery on Saturday, February 22.

Julie Ptasznik, Special Events Volunteer Coordinator

Gleaners Community Food Bank logo

Empty Bowls | Saturday, February 22, 2014 | 11am-2pm

For more about Gleaners and the Empty Bowls event at Pewabic, visit their website

Lunch Menu

  • Beverly Hills Grill – Mushroom Barley Soup (vegetarian soup)
  • Lunch Time Detroit – Buffalo Chicken Soup
  • Russell Street Deli – Black Eyed Pea with Collard Greens (vegan)
  • Polish Village Café – Pickle Soup (vegetarian)
  • St. John’s Hospital – Cheeseburger Soup
  • Sindbad’s – Clam Chowder
  • Vivio’s Food & Spirits – Unstuffed Pepper Soup
  • Zoup! – Gluten Free Tomato Basil Soup and Chicken Pot Pie Soup