Food for Thought, Food for Real
Debby Staton observed students’ food insecurity firsthand while working as a kindergarten teacher. She says it’s even more pronounced now with the increased cost of groceries. But she was given an opportunity to be part of the solution to the problem when, 13 years ago, she became the coordinator of the Flat Rock Backpack Program.
Each week during the school year, Backpack Program volunteers prepare 100-125 grocery bags of rice, beans, pasta, oatmeal, vegetables, fruit, and other food for pre-school and grade-school children whom educators have determined need nutritious food on weekends. MANNA FoodBank provides some of the food items and the rest is purchased. The bags of food are then taken to seven educational facilities in the area, where school administrators discreetly slip them into the students’ backpacks.
To help raise money to support the program, more than 20 regional potters are donating their works to the fifth annual Empty Bowls fundraising event, being held April 24 at The Episcopal Church of St. John in the Wilderness in Flat Rock.
Some of the area’s most talented clay artists will provide handcrafted bowls for the event. Participants get to select a bowl to take home, and then enjoy a meal (soups, breads, and desserts — all donated) in St. John’s Parish Hall.
Potter Remo Piracci, who has studied at Penland School of Craft and John C. Campbell Folk School, has been participating in Empty Bowls for the past five years. “It is a much-loved community event,” notes Piracci, “while also inspiring us potters to showcase the spirit that makes it so special.”
Rev. Josh Stephens, Rector of The Episcopal Church of St. John in the Wilderness, observes, “We are sustained by Christ, who feeds us in so many ways. Our Backpack Program is a way to ensure it doesn’t stop there. We get to share what we have with those who are hungry and all too easily forgotten.”
“I am so appreciative of the generosity of the potters, as well as the community support that makes this major fundraiser a possibility,” says Staton. “We raise almost half of our year’s budget from the Empty Bowls event.”
The Flat Rock Backpack Program presents “Empty Bowls” at The Episcopal Church of St. John in the Wilderness Parish Hall (1905 Greenville Hwy., Flat Rock) on Sunday, April 24, in three seatings: 12:30pm, 5pm, and 6pm. Tickets ($25 per person, $50 for a family of two adults and children under 12) are available at the Parish Hall, from Backpack team members, and at the door on the day of the event. Credit cards are accepted and checks should be made out to SJIW (noting Empty Bowls). For more information, call 828-693-9783. www.stjohnflatrock.org. Also see “Flat Rock Backpack Program” on Facebook.