The Third Annual Empty Bowls Luncheon to be held on the Old Courthouse grounds in downtown Dade City Friday, November 13, from 11:00 to 1:30 p.m.
Dade City – Last year, Empty Bowls raised nearly $30,000 to stock the “Kid’s Café.” Together with Feeding America Tampa Bay, these funds enabled the Lewis Abraham Lacoochee Unit of the Boys & Girls Club to feed its approximately 100 Club members hot dinners Monday through Friday in 2015. Each child is also given a bag of groceries to take home each Friday night to help sustain them and their siblings over the weekend.
This year, both the goals and the needs have doubled as the Club moved into its new facility within the Lacoochee Community Center in Stanley Park and plans to see the number of youth served swell to capacity at 140.
This is the Club’s Fourth Annual Empty Bowls event, again in partnership with Feeding Tampa Bay (formerly Feeding America Tampa Bay). For $10 a ticket, participants get a small bowl of soup, bread, a bottle of water, and kumquat pie for lunch. Ticket holders are given a “thank you” – a colorful clay bowl as unique as the Boys & Girls Club member who made them. Curtis Beebe, chef and owner of Pearl in the Grove and Local Public House & Provisions, will be making a vegetable soup using locally sourced produce, as he’s done since the event’s inception. Golden Corral in Zephyrhills is donating the bread for the event at cost, Feeding Tampa Bay donates the bottled water, and Lacoochee’s former Pasco County Sheriff’s Officer Friendly David Hink (now retired) and his wife Jean donate kumquat puree and help the kids make mini refrigerator pies.
There will be a drawing this year for several desirable items, such as a golf cart, Yeti cooler and bicycles for a family of four. Tickets will be sold for $10 each, and winners need not be present to claim their prizes. In addition, a Sheriff’s cruiser equipped with a large television screen will play a video that captures what the hot meal program means to Boys & Girls Club youth.
“Last year, we had nearly reached our goal before the first cup of soup was served,” said Steve Hickman, Chairman of the Lacoochee Board of Directors. “Now that we’re in the new building, we can accommodate more children, which increases our operational costs exponentially. That makes this event critical to keeping our kids fed when they’re at the Club. We hope the whole community will come join us for lunch.”
According to the USDA Food Research Atlas data, 22 percent of Pasco County residents have low access to a grocery store. What’s more, 33,872 residents have low access to a grocery store and are also low income. Lacoochee falls into the latter category, and is considered to be meet the Federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative’s “Distress Criteria.” More than 20 percent of its population is living in poverty while the nearest full-service supermarket is seven miles away. This makes the nourishment provided at the Lacoochee Boys & Girls Club a necessity to the children living in these conditions.
All monies raised at Empty Bowls goes directly toward the Club’s feeding program. In 2012, the Lacoochee Boys & Girls Club served 5,142 meals to Club members. In 2015 that number will triple to over 15,000.
“We’ve completed our new gym and stage,” said David Armstrong, Executive Director of Pasco County for the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay. “We’ve also become a Prodigy arts program site, which has helped attract and retain even more youth. We want to keep them coming back so we can be a positive influence on their lives. Feeding them really helps us do just that.”
Tickets for the 2015 Empty Bowls are now available at the First National Bank of Pasco in Dade City at 13135 U.S. Highway 301 or at the Lacoochee Boys & Girls Club in Stanley Park, across from Lacoochee Elementary School. The Lacoochee Boys & Girls Club is now seeking sponsors for this event. To learn more, contact Ricky Gude, Empty Bowls Chair at (352) 588-5115 or David Armstrong of the Boys & Girls Club at (813) 785-3496.
About Empty Bowls: Empty Bowls is an international grassroots effort to fight hunger and was created by The Imagine Render Group. The basic premise is simple: Potters and other craftspeople, educators and others work with the community to create handcrafted bowls. Guests are invited to a simple meal of soup and bread. In exchange for a cash donation, guests are asked to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. The money raised is donated to an organization working to end hunger and food insecurity. Empty Bowls is celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015.
About the Lacoochee Boys & Girls Club: The Club works to enable all young people, especially those who need help the most, to realize their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Annually, the Lacoochee Club serves nearly 500 at-risk youth in comprehensive out of school time programming. The Lacoochee Boys & Girls Club believes every child has the potential to be great. In support of this strong conviction, the Club strives to build driven and independent adults. The Boys & Girls Club family – a community of staff, volunteers, parents, youth and supporters – work together to create a positive place, full of hope and opportunity, for every child in East Pasco County.
The Lacoochee Boys & Girls Club hopes to fill Empty Bowls with dollars needed to feed its Club members in 2015. 4-4-4.
Lacoochee Boys & Girls Club Sources:
Steve Hickman, Chairman. shickman@FNBPasco.com. (352) 521-7250
David Armstrong, Director/East Pasco. firstname.lastname@example.org. (813) 785-3496
Ricky Gude, Empty Bowls Chair. email@example.com. (352) 588-5115
Jennifer Frazier, Volunteer Council Chair. firstname.lastname@example.org. (813) 991-2334