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Empty Bowls events raise money to fight hunger

Joe Jacquez
Mesa Legend

Event participants could purchase one of thousands of ceramic bowls, each for $10. Proceeds from the sales went to Paz de Cristo, a local charity. Photos: Tania Ritko/Mesa Legend
Event participants could purchase one of thousands of ceramic bowls, each for $10. Proceeds from the sales went to Paz de Cristo, a local charity.
Photos: Tania Ritko/Mesa Legend

MCC’s commitment to civic engagement and engaging in discussions about tough issues continued recently with a variety of events during Hunger Awareness Week at both the Southern and Dobson and Red Mountain campuses. The events occurred from Oct. 19 to Oct. 23 and centered around MCC’s annual Empty Bowl art charity events. The first event on campus, the Creative Food Box Cooking competition, took place on Oct. 20 at 10 a.m. Teams were tasked with preparing a nutritious and savory meal with ingredients commonly found in a local food box.  The event was followed by a hunger awareness discussion panel. Additionally, a Garden Market offered handcrafted ceramic containers for sale made by students in ceramic classes.

The same events will take place at the same times on the Red Mountain campus on Nov. 2. All proceeds from the Garden Market, as well as every bowl purchased, will go to the Paz de Cristo community center, a local non-profit focused on combatting hunger. The Empty Bowl program has been a big part of the MCC community for the last 20 years, helping to raise over $17,000 dollars every year for Paz de Cristo.
Linda Speranza of the art department has been heavily involved in the Empty Bowls project and a strong anti-hunger advocate for years, and wants students to understand the real purpose of this event. “There is a real and immediate need for support in the area of food,” Speranza said.  “Many of our students and our neighbors in the Mesa community live in food-compromised situations.I wanted to bring awareness to that issue.”

ClientsFood insecurity, a situation when access to nutritionally adequate and safe foods is uncertain, is a bigger issue in the state of Arizona than what is being discussed.  According to the United Food Bank, which provides more than 51,000 meals to hungry people in Arizona every day, one in four children are food insecure in Arizona, one in five adults are food insecure, and one in seven seniors are food insecure.
Food insecurity affects 225,598 individuals, 93,525 children, and 84,493 households in Arizona alone.  The issue of hunger also directly affects students right here at MCC.  “I have students every semester who cannot afford to buy food, or live on very marginal budgets that barely allow them to get by,” Speranza said.  “If students are making the choice to come to school and get an education I believe that we should make every effort to try to support their needs so they can finish their degree.”

Duane Oakes, the faculty director for the Center for Community and Civic Engagement at MCC says that the school is committed to helping the local and global community. “MCC has a commitment to civic engagement as part of its long-term dedication to its local and global community,” Oakes said in a press release on MCC’s website.  “Hunger has been identified as an important issue needing to be immediately addressed.”  There are many ways for students to get involved and help make real change, and Speranza encourages every student to do so.
“It is everyone’s responsibility to help those in need in the community around them,” Speranza said.  “We all need to contribute in whatever way we can. If you buy one bowl at the Empty Bowl event or learn about food support services in the East Valley to use or pass onto to someone in need you are helping.” For additional information, contact Linda Speranza at (480) 461-7534 or email her at
linda.speranza@mesacc.edu, or visit her in person in the art department.

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