Redwood Empire Food Bank auctions handmade bowls to feed the hungry

The 10th annual Empty Bowls dinner and auction welcomed guests to view and bid on over 100 handmade bowls created and donated by local artists.|

Redwood Empire Food Bank’s warehouse in Santa Rosa is normally stocked with pallets of donated food that goes toward feeding hungry individuals and families in the region. On April 22, the warehouse was instead filled with eye-catching handmade bowls during the food bank’s Empty Bowls dinner and auction.

The 10th annual benefit, which returned after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, welcomed 320 guests to view and bid on 117 handmade bowls created and donated by artists from around the Bay Area, including Sonoma County.

During the silent auction, a bowl from Whitney Smith Pottery in Vallejo fetched the highest bid at $1,200, according to the food bank’s marketing and public relations manager Rachelle Mesheau.

The event, which raised $730,000, also included a cocktail hour during which Sonoma County ceramic artists Jee Wipperfurth and Chris Landwehr and Sebastopol wood turner Jerry Kermode demonstrated their skills turning clay and bark into bowls.

Mesheau said the money will be put to work in programs that target childhood hunger, senior hunger and food insecurity in Sonoma County. She added that the cost to the food bank to serve the 48,000 households who rely on the nonprofit for food is $1.6 million every month.

A family-style dinner featuring chicken, flank steak and pasta was prepared by Park Avenue Catering co-owner and chef Ari Weiswasser, who also co-owns Glen Ellen Star. Santa Rosa’s Foley Family Wines, Healdsburg’s Cartograph Wines, Sonoma’s Eco Terreno Wines & Vineyards and Santa Rosa’s Vintage Wine Estates donated wine to the event.

The live auction featured four wine-centered lots including a dinner for 10 couples at Bricoleur Vineyards in Windsor and a trip to Belize for two donated by the Coppola family.

At the end of the evening, the food bank’s CEO David Goodman invited all 83 Redwood Empire Food Bank staff to the stage.

“He was demonstrating what it takes to feed people in need,” Mesheau said. “We rely on these hard-working individuals as well as more than 10,000 volunteers to do the work we do.”

For more information, go to

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:
  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.