There is a fable about a hungry traveler who arrived in a village where the residents were also hungry. Each thought that they had nothing to spare.
From door to door the traveler begged, but no one could spare a meal. Turned away at the last house, the traveler announced that he would have to make stone soup. He pulled out a stone and a pot, and lit a fire. “Can I bother you for some broth?” he asked a villager. She said that yes, in fact, she did have broth to spare.
“This would be better with a carrot,” he mused. Another villager did, in fact, have a carrot to spare.
“An onion would add flavor,” he said aloud. Another village presented an onion.
It went on like this, each villager contributing one ingredient, until a huge pot of soup was created. With each villager giving what they had, there was enough for all.
The spirit of the story of “stone soup” lives in Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina’s “Annual Empty Bowls.” Local restaurants donate pots of their signature soups, local potters donate handcrafted bowls, and local residents all come together to share a meal and raise funds to feed our community.
A pot, some broth, a carrot, an onion, a stone. Everyone has something to offer in the fight against hunger. Making sure that children and families have the fuel they need to do all they must do to move forward in their lives is necessary and timely work. Across our region, one in every six residents is “food insecure.” Since the economic downturn, Second Harvest has seen the number of people turning to our partner network for help grow from 135,000 people to nearly 300,000 people. Nearly one-third of all those they are helping are children.
Many who are now seeking food assistance never imagined they would need help feeding their families. However, with wages failing to keep up with the costs of everyday life, parents are carefully balancing their checkbooks and choosing which bills to pay. 69% of Forsyth County families tell us that they have had to choose between paying for utilities and buying food in the last year; 68% have had to choose between paying for healthcare and food. When families are faced with these impossible choices, food often has to take a back seat.
Importantly, while food insecurity in America has to do with quantity, it also has even more to do with quality. Food is expensive, and many families on tight budgets are filling their carts with calories, not nutrients. 84% of adults served by Second Harvest purchase less expensive food to provide enough food for their family, even when they know their choices may not be the healthiest option. As a result, obesity and food insecurity have a direct correlation in America, creating significant health risks for children and their futures.
No parent wants their child to have inadequate food, and Second Harvest is committed to helping reverse this trend. Through BackPack Programs, Kids Cafes, School Pantries, Summer Meal Programs, and through our expansive network of 450 on-the-ground partners in local communities, we are on target to move 39 million pounds of food this year to the families of Northwest North Carolina who need it the most.
These “families” might be at your children’s schools or may be in your neighborhood, place of worship, or even in your extended family. No matter where they are, we rely on our wonderful “stone soup” community to make sure their needs are met.
We hope that you will grab a few friends and come fill your bowl at our 16th Annual Empty Bowls luncheon this April 26th at the Benton Convention Center in downtown Winston-Salem. It will be a simple feast, but one that says much about our commitment to feeding community…together.