Saline student artists and their guests raised close to $5,000 to help fight hunger in Washtenaw County at the annual Empty Bowl benefit held at Saline High School Feb. 16.
Students from all of Saline’s schools created colorful ceramic bowls for the occasion. Culinary arts students baked breads and desserts and cooked soups from scratch. Student musicians and singers provided entertainment.
Last week’s event was the seventh annual. Betsy DiMaggio brought the idea to Saline Area Schools and still has a hand in its organization. She explained the event’s staying power.
“It resonates with people. It’s a fun event in the winter, but it’s also something that people can feel good about contributing to,” DiMaggio said.
Money raised at the benefit goes to Food Gatherers, which feed the hungry in Washtenaw County and supports local agencies like Saline Area Social Service.
Students in the culinary arts program made five soups: Chicken noodle, broccoli cheddar, clam chowder, jambalaya and butternut squash. Students
Empty Bowls provides culinary arts students with a chance to perform in a fast-paced environment right before competition season, said Chef Sam Musto, head of the culinary program.
“Tomorrow my kids are going to culinary competition. So, they’ve been practicing cake decoration, pie making. So, this is a great event to not only practice baking, but to serve the goods we have,” Musto said.
Musto said he looks forward to the annual event.
“We have cold Michigan winters, so we need lots of soup,” Musto laughed. “But I’m glad we get to work with the arts department and the music departments to show off the arts here in Saline schools.”
Over the years, the event has changed slightly. In the early years it was about the soup and the bowls. Officials from the schools and Food Gatherers would speak to the audience. But the speeches have given way to more musical entertainment from the students.
“We decided the speeches weren’t necessary. People probably already know about Food Gatherers and why they’re coming. So, it’s more about people coming and enjoying themselves,” DiMaggio said.
Saline High School Principal David Raft enjoyed seeing all the activity at Saline High School. Beyond the Empty Bowls activities, the wrestling team was busy winning a district in the gym, the swim team celebrated senior night, and FFA practiced public speaking in the auditorium.
“It’s great to see the community come out, from all different levels in the district. It’s a great cause. The spirit in Saline High School tonight is awesome. Not only do we have Empty Bowls, we have our fiddlers and our jazz band. We’ve got wrestling and swimming and FFA going on. It’s a great night at Saline High School,” Raft said.