Ray Huard …The soup was yummy – loaded potato, with bacon, cheese, chives and sour cream made and served by culinary art students from Vista High School.
Better yet, it came in colorful ceramic bowls, each one a different work of art, hand-crafted by students at Vista Innovation & Design Academy (VIDA), a middle school in the Vista
Unified School District.
And to top it off, the $495 raised selling the soup-filled bowls at $5 each went to the North County Food Bank as part of an “Empty Bowls” project organized by VIDA art teacher Heather Williams, who was looking for ways to connect student art projects to real-world issues.
Empty Bowls is an international program run by the nonprofit organization Imagine Render, which lists its mission as creating “positive and lasting change through the arts, education, and projects that build community.”
The idea is that people buy a meal in a bowl to raise money for organizations that fight hunger, like the North County Food Bank, and they keep the bowl as a reminder of the empty bowls in the world.
I love it,” said Kim Hilder, president of the VIDA PTA (Parent Teacher Association) and the Del Norte PTA.
“I love that they’re giving to the Food Bank,” said Hilder, whose 13-year-old son, Eric, is an eighth-grader at VIDA. “It warms my heart, just like this soup will warm me.”
After sampling a bowl, Eric proclaimed the soup a winner.
“It takes like clam chowder,” he said.
The soup and bowls were served up as part of a recent VIDA exposition that included displays of a wide-range of student projects, from underwater robots that dove and surfaced in the school swimming pool to live drama and music performances.
VIDA Principal Eric Chagala said the idea was “to share with the public and the parents the work the kids have been doing.”
The Empty Bowls part of the exposition fit nicely with VIDA’s design-thinking curriculum, which stresses learning by doing, said Williams, a founding faculty member of VIDA.
“Everybody knows education has to change from the teacher standing up there, talking,” said Williams, who was a founding faculty member of VIDA.
Connecting the student’s creativity with a community issue was a hit with Amy McGuire, whose daughter, Chloe, is a seventh-grader at VIDA.
“We got here early because we were excited about the opportunity for feeding the hungry,” McGuire said as she sampled some soup. She proclaimed it “very delicious.”
“The best part, for me, is somebody else made it,” McGuire said.
Jessica Garcia, a substitute teacher at Vista Unified’s Casita Center for Technology, Science & Math elementary school, said she was impressed by the collaboration between the VIDA art students and the high school culinary students in making the bowls and the soup.
“What a great combination, to get everyone working together,” said Garcia, whose daughter, Joelle, is a seventh grader at VIDA, and daughter, Brooklyn, is a fifth-grader at Casita.
The soup “tastes like what you’d get in a restaurant,” Garcia said. She liked the ceramic bowls so much that she bought four of them.
Chef Kim Plunkett, who created the culinary program at Vista High School, said that her students took the idea and ran with it.
“They made it at school today,” Plunkett said on the day of the exposition. “I gave them the recipe and that was it.”
VIDA seventh-grader Lindsey Huezo, who made two bowls, liked the idea of linking her art work to a community issue.
“It will help people who are hungry,” said Lindsey, 12. “I think the money will help a lot.”
VIDA sixth-grader Belen Martinez said the project was “really cool.”
“I get to show my imagination by making bowls,” said Belen, 11. “It’s really fun.”
Her father, Marcos Hernandez, was impressed with the bowl Belen made.
“It’s fantastic,” he said as he got in line for soup.