Hosted by Ponoka FCSS, an annual event geared to strengthening local food security is coming up on Sept. 26 at the Ponoka Legion.
At ‘Empty Bowls,’ which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., folks pick up a hand-made pottery bowl from the Ponoka Potters Guild for $20 and enjoy a bowl of soup, a bun, and a treat — all of which is donated by local businesses and organizations, said Shelly Van Eaton, FCSS program manager.
All proceeds go towards food insecurity in the community.
“It’s an international event to help fight hunger,” said Van Eaton. “Guests are invited to have a simple meal of soup and bread, and the money raised goes to food insecurity within that community.
“The idea is that every time you take your bowl out of your cupboard, you will think about the food insecurity within your own community,” she said. “This could encourage someone to take a cup of coffee to a homeless person or maybe take a few things to the food bank.
“It’s meant to build awareness that there is somebody who is hungry in the community,” she said.
The event has been held in Ponoka since 2002, and local support has always been tremendous, she said.
“Sometimes, there will be ladies come in for bowls to take out to the fields for those who are harvesting. We often will sell out of bowls, and people will still just put in their money,” she said.
The soups are donated by local eateries, and the variety is always pretty striking, too.
“We’ve had everything from wonton, to dill pickle to mushroom,” she said.
Shannon Boyce-Campbell, FCSS executive director, noted that a look at the Alberta government (2023) average retail prices shows essential items typically bought by consumers such as fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, etc. have risen in price by 8.6 per cent from July 2022 to July 2023.
“We all try our best to adjust our purchases to live within our means, but for most people, wages have not increased at a rate equal to inflation, and for those that are on a fixed income (AISH, income support, seniors pensions), what essential items should they omit?
“The next time you’re at a grocery store, and perhaps put back the brand name item to purchase the no-name one, we hope you recognize there are many folks that are in a position of not purchasing the item at all.
“They are relying on, and are appreciative of, what they get through local programs such as the Ponoka Food Bank and the Ponoka Library Food Pantry.”
Prior to the lunch, there will also be an inter-agency meeting at 9 a.m.
Those interested in being a part of that are asked to register with Ponoka FCSS if they’d like to set up a table for the community to check out.
Table set-up would have to be between 8:30 and 9 a.m.
Van Eaton said that organizers are still encouraging folks to volunteer at the Empty Bowls event, and of course, donations are welcome.
For more information or to help out, call the Ponoka FCSS office at 403-783-4462.