Help Natchez Stewpot fill Empty Bowls to help feed hungry

Published 12:25 am Friday, February 1, 2019


NATCHEZ —  On an ordinary day, one bowl of gumbo fills one stomach. On Feb. 17, one bowl — and 399 other handcrafted pieces of pottery — will help fill the shelves of the Natchez Stewpot.

Artists from Natchez, New Orleans and Baton Rouge have been busy making bowls for this year’s Empty Bowls fundraiser, to help feed the hungry people in Natchez.

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Tickets to the event are being sold for $25 at Natchez Coffee Company on Franklin Street. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

Ticket holders will be able to attend the event from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Natchez Pottery on Madison Street to select a handcrafted bowl and enjoy a simple meal.

“You get a bowl of gumbo in the bowl you selected,” Natchez Pottery owner Patricia Huffines said. “We will wash it for you before we fill it and then wash it for you before you take it home.”

Plastic bowls also will be available for those who do not want to use their bowls for the meal, Huffines said.

Cornbread and bottled water also will be served at the event.

Tents will be set up outside the Natchez Pottery Studio for those who want to eat in the shade.

Ticketholders can also get their gumbo to-go and take it home to eat, Huffines said.

Started in 2004, the Empty Bowls event is hosted in Natchez every two years to help raise funds for maintenance, repairs and other expenses at the Stewpot.

“All of the money goes straight to Stewpot, every bit of it,” Huffines said.

All of the bowls and the time to handcraft the bowls is donated by the potters, Huffines said.

This year, 400 bowls have been made for the event.

Unlike years past, the bowls will not be able to be pre-selected or viewed before the event starts to give all ticketholders an equal opportunity to see the bowls.

“Last time we had to put a ribbon around the perimeter and have people wait,” Huffines said. “In recent years, it has become very popular”

“It is like a mad rush to see the bowls. It gets crazy,” Huffines said.

Any bowls left unselected after 1 p.m. will also be available for those who were unable to purchase tickets in advance, Huffines said.

Even though it may seem like the event is about obtaining a bowl, Huffines said the fundraiser is so much more.

“It’s not about the bowl,” Huffines said. “It is about the struggles people in our area — and across the nation — have to fill that bowl.”

“It is about the empty bowls people have to face every day.”