CMC pottery and culinary arts students team up for Grand River Meals on Wheels fundraiser |

CMC pottery and culinary arts students team up for Grand River Meals on Wheels fundraiser

Jessica Cabe
The first batch of about 20 bowls for Empty Bowls is done
Jessica Cabe / Post Independent |

If You Go...

What: Empty Bowls

When: 11:11 a.m. to 1:11 p.m. on March 11

Where: Grand River Cafe, 501 Airport Road in Rifle

How Much: $20 donation to Grand River Meals on Wheels includes student-crafted ceramic bowl and soup lunch prepared by CMC culinary arts students

The Rifle community is coming together next week to offer a unique fundraising event to benefit Grand River Meals on Wheels.

For a $20 donation, attendees of the March for Meals Empty Bowls lunch event on March 11 can get a handmade ceramic bowl and soup to fill it, all courtesy of Colorado Mountain College in Rifle.

The bowls will be made by CMC students in advanced and intermediate ceramics classes, and the soups will be made by CMC culinary arts students who are interning in Grand River Health’s kitchen. Those who donate $20 to attend Empty Bowls will be able to pick out their handcrafted bowl, choose one of six soups to fill it, and then take the bowl and recipe card home to keep.

The idea for the fundraiser came from Michelle McCurdy, adjunct ceramics instructor at CMC Rifle.

“I’ve been involved in a couple of Empty Bowls things in the last year — one up in Edwards and one in Grand Junction,” McCurdy said. “So I thought, ‘We better do it here in Rifle.’”

Grand River Meals on Wheels delivers meals from New Castle to Battlement Mesa and Parachute. They deliver what amounts to about 1,000 meals a month, Monday through Friday, to homebound seniors, the disabled, hospice patients and those recovering after a stay at Grand River Health.

McCurdy got in touch with Kaaren Peck, director of volunteer services at Grand River Meals on Wheels, and they decided to host Empty Bowls in March since it’s a national fundraising month for Meals on Wheels.

“My plan was to do it at the end of March or beginning of April, but since March is their fundraising month, March for Meals, they said, ‘March 11?’ and I said, “Yes, okay, we’ll do it,’” McCurdy said. “So it’s kind of a rush.”

“It really fell together very quickly because I would say I got that email less than six weeks ago,” Peck said. “What was amazing was how easily everything fell into place. The kitchen was so excited, and the students are so excited about this whole thing.”

After McCurdy brought the idea to Peck, they had to figure out where the soup was going to come from. Involving the CMC culinary arts students seemed like the perfect way to combine a real-world learning experience for them with a service to their community.

“This is our biggest event we’ve done so far, so we’re going to make a larger amount of soup than we’ve made before,” said culinary arts student Tania Diaz. “And I really liked the idea because I’m really into art, so having CMC students making the bowls and having us make the soup, I thought it was a cool idea.”

Nick Carbone, another culinary arts student working on a team with Diaz, said he’s excited to use his passion for food to help his community.

“It will be a good learning experience because I’m not only learning to do what I love, but I’m learning how to use what I love to benefit the community,” he said.

The ceramics students are getting some practical lessons out of this project, too. About 15 students have been working for the past three weeks to create about 130 bowls. Cranking out that many pieces in such a short period of time has been great practice for them, McCurdy said.

“Some of my students have said this is a great project because when you make a whole bunch of one thing, you learn more about the form, the shape, how to glaze it, and they can experiment, feeling free in a way because they’re just whipping these bowls out,” she said. “When you sit down in a class and you say, ‘I want you to make 20 bowls,’ they’ll look at you like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ But they’re doing it for something important. Everybody’s really into it. How could you not be?”

McCurdy and Peck both said the collaborative nature of Empty Bowls and the involvement of students really make the event something special to them, and they hope it’s a success so they can continue to do it every year.

“The beauty of the thing, of course, is pottery and culinary arts students and the Grand River kitchen: everybody working together to do this one thing,” McCurdy said. “I think it’s just perfect.”

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