Our Story

The origin of the Empty Bowls event dates back to 1990 when a high school art teacher in Michigan helped his students address a challenge. They were searching for a way to raise funds to support a local food drive. What evolved was the idea of a class project to make ceramic bowls for a fundraiser dinner. 

Since then, many variations of the original Empty Bowls event have taken flight annually in North America and around the world.  To date millions of dollars have been raised.

The first Empty Bowls dinner event in Thunder Bay was held in 2000, spearheaded with the combined efforts of well known Thunder Bay potters, Alan Moon and Fritz Lehmberg together with Lakehead Unitarian Fellowship member, Pyteke Blaauw. 

This successful annual dinner event has grown over the years and it is the combined spirit and commitment of caring community volunteers that make this inspirational event possible and the success it is today.

Saturday, October, 15, 2022 will mark the 23rd Annual Empty Bowls, Caring Hearts Fundraising event in Thunder Bay.  When the pandemic restrictions in 2020 forced the cancellation of an indoor sit-down dinner, the organization team pivoted to a drive through event in both 2020 and 2021. 

With uncertainty about the fall of 2022, it was decided to continue this format again. The goal continues to be a return to a sit-down dinner in 2023. 

All proceeds from the event go to support the efforts of Shelter House and The Thunder Bay Food Bank.  In Thunder Bay alone the Empty Bowls mission has raised approximately $375 000.00 to help feed those in our community who need food.

To learn more about hunger in Canada, check out our resources page.