Empty Bowls is an international effort to fight hunger using ceramic arts. Each bowl is symbolic, according to Kelly Furr, president of the Student Dietetic Association.
"And it just represents a child that could be hungry," Furr said. The bowls were donated by the NIU Ceramic Arts organization for a recent fundraiser.
Participants entered the room and were greeted by tables filled with colorful handmade ceramic bowls. Some bowls were circular and turquoise while others were square with a blue stripe swirling to the middle. Each bowl cost $10 and was filled with unlimited soup made by NIU chef and Food Systems Lab Coordinator Bryan Flower.
NIU student Carly Falotico came out to support the effort.
"I purchased the bowls and I think they are really nice," she said. "Last year I actually purchased two and I use them every day. They're pretty well crafted and I think they look beautiful this semester."
Lise Schlosser decided to return to the event this year.
"I really appreciate both the beautiful pottery and the opportunity to support really good causes," she said.
Schlosser described seeing the effects of hunger.
"Hunger is a huge problem in the community," she said. "I teach at a community college and my students are often looking for opportunities. I know that there are students here at Northern -- we wouldn't have the huskie food pantry if we didn't need it. Food insecurity is a huge issue."
Schlosser says events like this can help.
"It's one of those issues that we have the power to solve," she said. "As a society we really need to step up and solve the problem because it can be solved."
Jenna Davison is a member of the Huskie Food Pantry.
"The empty bowls is a split donation between Hope Haven and the Huskie Food Pantry, and getting a donation from this event helps us purchase more food and supplies," she said. "At the Northern Illinois Food Bank, one dollar donated gets us to buy eight dollars' worth of food."
The Huskie Food Pantry, located in the Chick Evans Field House, offers a variety of dry and fresh food for students to take, plus household and hygiene supplies.
"There's a few items we have limits on, which are eggs and some of the feminine care products and body care, tooth paste -- those sort of things," Davison said. "Everything else we don't limit and it's basically you go in and you take what you need."
The food pantry is available to any student who does not have a campus meal plan. The members urge students to take advantage of the resource even if they only need minimal help.
"Even use it as a supplemental to your groceries if you're able to," said Davison. "Because it's here for the students so might as well use it if you need it."
Wyatt Murphy is a member of NIU's Student Dietetic Association.
"I mean it is hard to actually have money to buy food and rent and school and everything else," Murphy said, "but there is a lot of resources at the same time."
Organizers plan to continue making Empty Bowls an annual event.