Empty Bowl Lunch returns

Published 3:20 pm Monday, December 11, 2023

Since 2006, Jessamine County’s alternative public school – the Providence School – has hosted the empty bowl lunch event, where students and staff spend four months creating hundreds of bowls to sell each December.

Teacher Liz Spurlock started it, and now, teacher Sarah Prewitt has taken over the leading reins of this event.

“It’s still a collaborative effort. Spurlock still helps with it. But I am taking over the art classes, so the kids glaze with me. But she’s very much a part of it,” Prewitt said. “As long as she’ll be here, I’ll rope her into helping me.”

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On Wednesday, Dec. 6, the school held its eleventh annual empty bowl lunch, selling the colorful creations for $15 a pop, including a lunch of soup, a sandwich, a drink, and a dessert- all made by the kids with Liz Spurlock’s supervision in her cooking class.

The students made more bowls than last year at “286 total. Our goal was 200. They met that, going above and beyond.”

The price of the bowls also increased from $12 to $15, giving Prewitt and Spurlock that much more in the proceeds to split between next year’s supplies for the event and a food insecurity charity, as they do every year.

“They cranked out a lot of bowls in a short amount of time. We’ve been firing the kilns nonstop, they’ve been glazing nonstop, and I think the kids feel pretty good about meeting that goal. It is a sigh of relief, right, cause they’ve done all the hard work and now it’s their time to shine and show everything they’ve done,” Prewitt said.

Twenty minutes before the lunch started, a line had already been formed, stretching several yards long with mouths hungry for food and hearts hungry for art. Community leaders showed up in droves, too, including Jailer Jon Sallee, Magistrates Adam Teater and Justin Ray, Superintendent Matt Moore, former and first Principal Denise Adams, and Director of the Chamber of Commerce Ronda May.

Students were eager for guests to grab their bowls and enjoy the food they worked hard to make. 10th grader Austin Powell is one of these students. He didn’t have art class last year, so he was excited to get creative this year.

“I like to cook, and I like food, so I went for a food theme with many of the bowls I worked on. This bowl you see here is a blood orange, so my signature thing is I put the fruit on the bottom in case you don’t know what it is. So this is a blood orange, then I have a kiwi, a dragon fruit, and some Little Debbie Cakes,” Powell said.

Powell helped with the potato soup, the chili, and quite a few of the sandwiches served at the event. Although he cooks at home, he also takes culinary classes.

“My main goal is to become a chef and own a restaurant. But I also cook at home when I can,” he said.

Denise Adams, a former principal who helped open the Providence School, held her granddaughter in her hands, smiling.

“It’s amazing. It’s gratifying to be at this event. When it started, the staff bought most of the bowls, so it’s gratifying to see a long line of people buying kids’ work,” Adams said.