Filling Stomachs—and Educating a Community —with “Empty Bowls”

Christal Howard, Rene Archambault and Debbie Gillespie are helping bring Empty Bowls to Frisco

Filling Stomachs—and Educating a Community—with “Empty Bowls”
Trio of Frisco Leaders to Head Up First Soup Fundraiser for Frisco Student Hunger

FRISCO, TEXAS – February 3, 2019 – The global “Empty Bowls” fundraiser event is coming to Frisco this weekend, to benefit Frisco Fastpacs, a charity that provides meals to over 1000 children in Frisco ISD each weekend during the academic year.

School counselors make an initial request of Fastpacs on behalf of identified students in need, each of whom will then receive a bag containing seven meals to take home, every Friday after school. There is no cost to the school or the student for the support; the food items and the labor to prepare and deliver the bags are all provided by community volunteers and partners.

Fastpacs has seen requests for these food donations soar—to such an extent that some new campuses had to be placed on a temporary waiting list during the fall semester. The charity’s board, staff and volunteers continually seek ways to stock the Fastpacs pantry shelves in order to provide for every hungry student.

The very first “Empty Bowls” event was held in 1990 as a Michigan high school art project; students made ceramic bowls, served a meal of soup and bread, and invited guests to keep the bowl as a reminder of hunger in the world. The following year, a non-profit was formed to promote the concept, and today there are similar fundraisers held all over the world. The project was noticed by Frisco Fastpacs Executive Director Heather Canterbury, who brought it to the non-profit’s leadership.

Fastpacs board member René Archambault, who also serves Frisco ISD on the Board of Trustees, agreed with the vision. “I attended an ‘Empty Bowls’ party in another city, and I agreed immediately that we could benefit from something like it. The intersection of art, food and hunger awareness seemed like a meaningful way to highlight the needs met every single week by Fastpacs,” Archambault explained. She is serving as chair of the inaugural steering committee.

Joining her school board colleague to bring the event to Frisco will be Debbie Gillespie, FISD Place 5 Trustee and Board Secretary, who will serve as honorary chair. Gillespie has served on the board of several local non-profits which support the health and development of students, including Frisco Fastpacs. “Having volunteered with Fastpacs since its first year, I have watched the demand grow right alongside our student population,” she said of the increasing call for support. “I began helping [Fastpacs founder] Marian Schulze in 2013 when we packed bags of food around her dining room table and delivered them to 30 students at one elementary school… but FISD has grown by over 30% since that first year. Today, over 63 campuses receive weekend meal packs… all for kids who might otherwise go hungry until Monday.”

At Frisco’s Empty Bowls event, to be held at Verona Villa, local restaurants will provide tastings and bowls of their top soup recipes to guests. Participants include Half Shells Plano, Corner Bakery, UP Inspired Kitchen, Market Street, and Mezcal Taco. During the event, each guest will select a hand-painted “empty bowl” to take home as a reminder that there are food insecurity and hunger needs even in a prosperous community like Frisco.

Serving as emcee of Empty Bowls Frisco will be Emmy-nominated reporter and former TV news anchor Christal Howard. She is the DFW publisher for Community Impact Newspapers and sits on the boards of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce, Visit Frisco (Frisco Convention and Visitors Bureau), and Frisco Education Foundation. “I am fortunate to witness so much of Frisco’s accomplishment firsthand, but I realize we have been ‘big-city successful’ thanks to a ‘small town value’ of caring for our neighbors. It will be a privilege to help share the story of FISD kids who need help at home so they can come to school ready to learn,” Howard said of the opportunity.

In addition to the soup dinner and selection of a decorated bowl, guests will enjoy live music, a raffle, and photo booths. Sweets will be donated by Celebrity Bakery, with beer and wine sponsored by Constellation Brands, Opici Wines and Serendipity Wines. Tickets are still available and start at $50 per person; they can be purchased here.