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Food Bank offering ‘Empty Bowls’

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By Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina distributes food to 380 nonprofit partner agencies in 18 counties that together feed over 200,000 hungry people a year.

The Winston-Salem-based Food Bank also feeds 700 to 800 children three evenings a week through its Kids Café program; provides 8 pounds of food each for the weekend for 400 students at eight elementary schools through its BackPack program; and trains cooks at its Triad Community Kitchen who prepare food for 20 agencies that feed over 1,500 hungry people a day.

But the Food Bank, with an annual budget of $2.7 million, still faces a $200,000 budget shortfall because of rising costs.

To help plug that gap, the agency on April 25 will host its 6th Annual Empty Bowls, aiming to raise $75,000.

Tickets costs $25 for the luncheon event, which raised $50,000 last year and will be held at Fire Station #1 in downtown Winston-Salem.

With 1,000 people expected the attend, the event will include live music by One String Over, a choice of soups prepared by local restaurants like Sweet Potatoes, and hand-crafted bowls for everyone attending as a reminder of those in the community who go hungry.

Presenting sponsor for the event is Texas Pete Sauces, produced by T.W. Garner Co. in Winston-Salem, with Wachovia serving as event sponsor and Dell and BB&T serving as contributing sponsors.

Five dollars from every ticket purchased will support the Kids Café program, which is funded by foundations and corporations.

The remainder of ticket revenues will support operations at the Food Bank.

For every $1 donated to the Food Bank, it can distributed $15 worth of food, based on its wholesale value, says Nan Griswold, executive director.

Revenue from handling fees it charges to its partner agencies cover half the Food Bank’s costs, Griswold says, the remaining half includes contributions from United Way of Forsyth County; special events like Empty Bowls; direct-mail appeals; and support from individuals, foundations, corporations and religious organizations.

The Food Bank provides its Kids Café program in collaboration with religious and community organizations, while its BackPack program is sponsored by Lowes Foods and, at Churchland Elementary School in Lexington, by a group of ministers in Davidson County.

Griswold says rising fuel costs are creating a budget shortfall.

The Food Bank operates with a fleet of eight trucks that pick up food from throughout the state and deliver it to partner agencies, and it also pay commercial truckers to pick up food from throughout the U.S.

“Transportation costs alone are killing us,” she says. “In 25 years, we have never had this.”

And the need for food the Food Bank delivers also is rising.

A recent survey of 23 partner agencies found they are serving just over 23,300 clients a month this year, up nearly 27 percent from 2006.

“We need $200,000 to close a budget gap,” Griswold says.

She says the Food Bank needs sponsors who will pay $1,000 to host a table at the Empty Bowls luncheon.

Bowls that will be given to guests at the event have been made by students at Winston-Salem State University and the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, artists at the Sawtooth School for Visual Art, and area potters, and potters in the Seagrove area.

Businesses, restaurants and artists wanting to support the event can contact Linda Ward, development director for the Food bank, at 336.784.5770 or Linda.ward@secondharvest.org.

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