Empty Bowls event fights to combat hunger


Maegan Vincent

The Ulrich Museum of Art collaborated with Empty Bowls to host the Empty Bowls Chili Cook Off. On Oct 22, the Empty Bowls Chili Cook-Off brought the community together to enjoy chili donated by local restaurants.

After a small hiatus, Empty Bowls Chili Cook-Off is back to help combat hunger. On Saturday, the Ulrich Museum of Art partnered with Empty Bowls to bring back the Empty Bowls Chili Cook-Off, where guests can pick out one of the hundreds of ceramic bowls made by local artists to support the Kansas Food Bank.

“It’s a super special event,” Brenda Lichman, founder and co-chair of Empty Bowls, said. “The idea is you pick your bowl, you eat with your community, and then you bring that empty bowl home to remind you of the event.”The Empty Bowls Chili Cook-Off event had several sponsors, including Facebook Meta, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, Emprise Bank, the Reuben Saunders Gallery and, most notably, the Ulrich Museum of Art.

“The Ulrich Museum of Art is our biggest collaborator,” Lichman said.

Carolyn Copple, the co-chair of Empty Bowls and Membership and Special Events Manager at the Ulrich Museum of Art, celebrated her last day on Saturday during the cook-off before retiring from the University.

“Carolyn Copple: we are Batman to each other’s Robin,” Lichman said. “We [did] everything and worked really hard, and it’s so special to have been able to build this event with Carolyn throughout the years.”

Copple, who had been with the museum for 11 years, managed the museum’s community outreach and special events. Copple frequently supports the food bank and even adopted a Blessings Box during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This event is really important to me because people struggling with hunger is something I care a lot about,” Copple said. “So this is just like a passion project for me, as well as being a part of my role at the university.”