Kids prepare the main ingredient for Empty Bowls fundraiser Wednesday |

Kids prepare the main ingredient for Empty Bowls fundraiser Wednesday

Empty Bowls returns to Buttermilk Mountain Lodge

Students take time molding and painting each bowl.
Audrey Ryan/The Aspen Times

There are brightly colored bowls overflowing boxes and lining the tables of Aspen Middle School art teacher Rae Lampe’s classroom as she prepares for her 19th year of Empty Bowls.

“It’s an incredible project we do,” Lampe said.

The event returns to Buttermilk Mountain Lodge, formerly known as Bumps, Wednesday afternoon for all community members who want soup, bread, dessert and a hand-crafted bowl to take home. The cost of a meal is a $10 donation, and all proceeds go to regional non-profit food pantry Lift Up.

Empty Bowls returns to Buttermilk Mountain Lodge at 5-7 p.m. Wednesday.
Audrey Ryan/The Aspen Times

The bowls are hand molded and painted by Aspen middle schoolers and students at Aspen Community School. Each of the hundreds of bowls is different and reflects the creativity of the students who created them.

For Lampe’s students, Empty Bowls is more than just an art project. It’s also an opportunity to teach her students about food distribution across the globe.

“It’s not just make a bowl and raise some money,” she said.

Lampe has a whole curriculum that goes with making the bowls, including a game involving candy.

“I divide (students) into countries and then I distribute M&Ms in the proportion of the amount of food that is consumed in that area,” Lampe said. “For example, Africa gets 13 M&Ms versus the United States getting 61. It has an impression.”

Students use a mold to shape each bowl into the right shape before firing it. Although many of the students want to write their names on their bowls so they can paint the one they shaped, Lampe has the bowls remain anonymous.

“Part of this is physically making something to give away,” she said, adding that the students gain a lot from painting something another student created because it builds a sense of community.

Lampe emphasized the importance she places in students using their hands in a time when so much is technological. Creating the bowls gives students a tangible way to see the impact they have on the world around them, she believes.

In addition to being a fundraiser and community event, Empty Bowls will generate no waste this year. Lampe thrifted hundreds of spoons from Aspen Thrift Store for this event. There will be a compost bin for food scraps and napkins, as well as a dishwashing station so people can take home clean bowls.

“We live in a valley that is so generous. They give us soup, bread and dessert. SkiCo gives us a place to host,” she said.

More than a dozen local restaurants are donating food for Empty Bowls, including the Caribou Club, Tasters, Paradise Bakery, Clark’s Market, Cache Cache, Home Team BBQ, Meat and Cheese, Big Wrap, Betula and Louis Swiss Bakery.

“Empty Bowls” is a nationwide initiative led by artists and craftspeople to raise funds for local food organizations and to bring greater awareness to hunger. After participants finish their meals, the bowls serve as a reminder that others still face empty bowls.

The vent poster states, “Participants leave with a full tummy, a bowl, a warm heart and a nourished soul.” which Lampe said they wrote a while ago but stays true to this day and is something she loves.

“I love the idea of actually making something with your hands to give back to the community,” she said.

If you go…

Where: Buttermilk Mountain Lodge, Base of Buttermilk

When: Wednesday,  5-7 p.m.

Cost: $10 for soup, bread, dessert and a handmade ceramic bowl


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