Campus Combats Hunger at 22nd Empty Bowl Dinner

By Christopher Sarachilli | November 19, 2015

Jennifer Gray ’10 & her mother Kathie select bowls at Empty Bowl Benefit Dinner

Just as each bowl created for Arcadia’s Empty Bowl Benefit Dinner has a style unique to its owner, so, too, does Empty Bowl mean different things to different people.

For David Klein ’15, who with Recent Graduate Trustee John Doherty ’14 greeted attendees as they entered the Castle on Nov. 16, Empty Bowl is a celebration of months of hard work. This was Klein’s third year working Empty Bowl. Despite working in Washington, D.C., after graduating, he traveled back to Arcadia to help out.

“The students are the lifeblood of this,” he said. In the five months preceding Empty Bowl, volunteers in the Community and Civic Engagement Center secured food donations, coordinated with organizations throughout the area to create bowls, and took care of every other logistical aspect of hosting a dinner for hundreds of people.  

Attendees have their pick of hundreds of bowls, some shaped like dog dishes, others like hearts, and a few flattened out like plates or raised tall like mugs. A few even were signed by Alan Cumming during his campus visit last month.

For Jessica Braun ’16 and Matthew Rydlewski ’18, who were part of a kitchen staff-sized team of volunteers preparing food and desserts, the evening was an outstanding example of the community uniting for a greater cause.

“It’s cool to see all of the clubs come together to help out,” she said. She and Rydlewski are members of the Personal Fitness Club, one of multiple clubs staffing the event. Performing community service is encouraged for every club at Arcadia, she explained.

Around the area, restaurants provided a vital contribution to the event—the food itself. Gallons of soups and chilis and hundreds of muffins, cupcakes, brownies, pastries, and other delicacies were provided for free from bakeries and eateries large and small.

For Arielle Leathers ’17, who co-coordinated the event along with Emmanuel Vazquez ’16, the event was about opening campus up to the rest of the community.

“It draws people together,” she said. “People around the area feel welcome here. They sit together and talk even if they don’t know each other.”

Regardless of everyone’s favorite aspect of Empty Bowl, they all echoed the event’s true importance. Around the tables crowded with people enjoying their meals, flyers and info sheets reminded attendees of statistics on hunger and homelessness.

And, most beneficially, all of the proceeds go to charity. In its 22 years, Empty Bowl has raised more than $100,000 for hunger relief. This year, all proceeds will benefit Interfaith Hospitality Network and The Hunger Project.

To find out how you can get involved with the Community and Civic Engagement Center, contact the Center at