The West Texas Food Bank, the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa College and Midland College are partnering to put on the 17th annual Empty Bowls, benefitting the West Texas Food Bank, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 2 at Trinity School, 3500 W. Wadley Ave., in Midland.

The Odessa High School International Baccalaureate program, Boys and Girls Club of the Permian Basin and Trinity also are involved.

Chris Stanley, UTPB associate professor of art and original Odessa organizer, said this is the second year UTPB, Odessa College and Midland College have untied to take on the problem of hunger in the region.

“This will be the first time that this collected group of artists has gone to Midland. Then next year, it will come back to Odessa. Hopefully, that will begin this nice pendulum swing between the two cities,” Stanley said.

Handmade ceramic bowls created by students and faculty from the partner groups will be available for $15 each. Food is being donated by Catfish and Company in Odessa and Jason’s Deli in Midland. All proceeds go to the West Texas Food Bank.

As of Jan. 5, Stanley said the target was 900 bowls.

Craig Stoker, communications director of the food bank, said he expects about 500 people to attend.

Stanley said Empty Bowls began in this area in 2001 as a response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“It was kind of a response to Sept. 11. We were looking for something to do that reaffirmed the humanness of us all. That first empty bowls there were 100 bowls, and again, Sid Clark (from Catfish and Company) was there. I just remember we had little pots of soup, and last year, I think we did close to $20,000 in two and a half hours. That was like $10,000 more than we’d ever done before, so the humbleness of all of this is that I believe that as an artist if you can get groups of people together and look at societal issues creatively, you can come up with incredible solutions,” Stanley said.

“Our friends at the food bank, I think, have just been devastated this year two hurricanes, tons of food going to the east part of the state so I think that they’re exhausted. I can’t think of a better way to start off the New Year than to celebrate that group of people …,” Stanley added.

Stanley said he hopes people from Odessa and Midland will turn out to blur the old lines between the communities and understand that the West Texas Food Bank serves the whole region.

Food bank Communications Director Craig Stoker said he thinks bringing the two communities together is a great idea because there are hungry people in both and throughout the food bank’s 19-county, 34,000 square mile service area.

Reserved tables for eight are available for $500 and allow guests to select from the “pick of the kiln” bowls made by artists from the universities and colleges, Stoker said.

“It’s fun to see not only the people who come to the event, but it’s fun to see the kids come out to make the bowls because they know what it’s going toward and what it’s going to help. It’s just a fun, creative opportunity for the community come out and support the food bank,” Stoker said.

If You Go
  • What: 17th annual Empty Bowls.
  • When: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 2.
  • Where: Trinity School, 3500 W. Wadley Ave., Midland.