In Floyd County, 47.5% of school children are eligible for free or reduced-cost meals at school. Food insecurity is harmful to all people, but it is particularly devastating to children. Proper nutrition is critical to a child’s development; lack of food can have serious implications for a child’s physical and mental health, academic achievement, and future potential. Economically disadvantaged children are often innocent victims of their circumstances.
In 2007, members of New River Community Action’s Floyd Local Advisory Board came together to address the problem of child hunger by creating the Floyd County Back Pack Program under the umbrella of New River Community Action. The potters in Floyd County and Pat Shelor, NRCA Floyd Local Advisory Board member, stepped forward to organize an event – Empty Bowls – to fund the program.
Today the local Empty Bowls Committee organizes the fundraising event held each spring at Floyd County High School. The Empty Bowls Committee consists of John Getgood, Don and Glenda George, Bob McLavey, Sue Morris, Loretta Opes, Marc and Kathy Poole, Paul and Cathy Shaut, Susan Sutterer, Glenda Vest, and Steve Webber. Susan Sutterer has served as the Committee Chairperson since 2014. Susan and her husband, Ron, have volunteered for the Empty Bowls event since its inception 10 years ago. Ron, a member of the Blue Ridge Potters Guild, is one of many fine artists who donate bowls to the event.
The beautiful bowls contributed by local potters make the annual luncheon a success. Community members also support Empty Bowls with donations of soup, bread and entertainment to create this popular event. Through the collective effort of the Floyd County community, a delicious meal is served to over 500 people each year.
The 2016, the Empty Bowls event raised $11,212 through ticket purchases, donations, and silent auction, the greatest amount ever. Since the first Empty Bowls in 2007, the fundraising effort has raised almost $69,000.
With funding from the Empty Bowls event, local foundations and private donors, the NRCA Floyd County Back Pack Program helps eligible school children receive nutritious, easy-to-prepare food they need for the weekends. Each week NRCA volunteers purchase, pack, and deliver the food to the five Floyd County schools and NRCA’s Head Start Program. School staff then discretely distribute the food to participating children. The program served an average of 174 children per week at the Floyd County schools and the NRCA Head Start program during the 2015-16 school year. The program has served 173 children as of February 2017.
The 10th annual Empty Bowls event will be held Sunday, April 23, beginning at 11:30 a.m. while supplies last. Event is held at Floyd County High School, 721 Baker St SE, Floyd, VA 24091.
Tickets go on sale March 20 at NRCA’s Office at 323 Floyd Highway South, Floyd VA 24091; Floyd Center for the Arts (formerly Jacksonville Center); Bell Gallery; Floyd Pharmacy (front counter); and the Floyd County Visitor Center/Chamber of Commerce. Tickets are $15.00 in advance and $18 at the door; tickets for children, 6-12, are $5.00. Children 5 and under eat for free.