Putting the bowl out for charity

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The first Czech edition of the international charity project Empty Bowls, aimed to raise both money and awareness in the fight to end hunger, will take place at Prague’s Café Jedna this Saturday. People can come and buy a bowl of soup and do a good deed at the same time. Ruth Fraňková spoke to Nina Rail, a potter and one of the organizers of the project and first asked about its history.

“The event was launched in Michagan 25 years ago by a couple of artists, John Hartom and Lisa Blackburn, and in recent years it also spread to Europe and elsewhere. But it had never been done in the Czech Republic so this really is the first edition, hopefully just the first of many.”

So what is the aim of the Empty Bowls project? How does it work?

“Potters make the bowls, restaurants or kitchens provide the soup, and people come and buy the bowl of soup to donate money to the cause.

“They can take the bowl home as a reminder of empty bowls around the world that still need to be filled. In our case we are donating the proceeds to the Czech version of Food Bank and the World Food Programme.”

How many potters have contributed to this event?

“Twenty-three, so far. Some are still interested but I am not quite sure if they can make it by Saturday. But 23 for sure.”

And how many bowls have you got? How many people do you actually expect to come?

“It’s close to 90. I think I might just round it up with more of my own to make it 99. Hopefully at least 90 people will come, but we really don’t know. The potters are really enthusiastic about the idea and I hope the public will be too, because it is a really nice project.”

Nina Rail, photo: archive of Nina Rail
Who will be providing the soup?

“It is Polévkárna, a restaurant which specializes in soups, so it was kind of a natural choice.”

So will there be more soups on offer?

“No, just that one. The event will be held in Café Jedna, in the National Gallery’s building, which normally doesn’t serve soups on Saturdays so it will be their special Saturday soup. I don’t actually know what soup it is going to be but I am sure the people from Polévkárna will think of something special.”

What about the price of the soup?

“The minimum donation will be 500 crowns. But if anybody wants to give more, they are of course welcome.”