Fewer empty bowls in Greene County

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The Empty Bowls Greene County luncheon last weekend highlighted a stark reality – some kids in Greene County may not be getting enough food to eat when they are away from school.


This fundraiser at Greene County Fairgrounds offered an innovative approach to raising money for the weekend food program, that provides kid-friendly food for students who might not be able to get enough nutrients at home. The program is available in all county school districts, thanks to donations, cooperation between organizations and the army of volunteers who donate time to make it happen.


The idea behind this event was “cooked up” by Waynesburg University senior Steven Snow, a Bonner Scholar searching for a project. He chose the Empty Bowl theme born in 1990 when Michigan art teacher John Hartom and his high school students made ceramic bowls for a fundraising meal of soup and bread, with guests being allowed to keep their bowls.


Snow chose to team up with the Community Foundation of Greene County. “Funds are divided among our schools for the weekend food program,” said Bettie Stammerjohn, the community foundation’s director.


While we recognize the contributions of the culinary students at Greene County Career and Technology Center and chef Bill Aupperle of the Lardin House, who provided delectable soups; the university students in advanced ceramics classes for making many of the bowls; and ceramic artists Jim and Linda Winegar, who pitched in and donated 40 of their pieces, the reason for the event should not be amid the gala-type atmosphere of the Empty Bowl luncheon.


And, that issue is hunger.


It is a sad state of affairs when children, without the benefit of the lunch program at schools, endure privation when they are home on weekends. And we are thankful for programs that make food available for students to take home.


We recall a story several years ago about the inauguration of a weekend food program, launched in the West Greene School District.


On this particular day, after the regular lunch crowd returned to class, an assembly line formed along the sides of cafeteria tables.


There was food, of course, but not the usual cafeteria fare. And there were students waiting in line, but they held plastic bags, not plastic trays.


In about 15 minutes, these middle and high school students, who reported to the cafeteria promptly at 12:45 p.m., packed 54 bags that were placed in six cardboard boxes – two marked for Graysville Elementary School, two marked for Springhill-Freeport Elementary School and two marked for the middle school.


These 54 plastic bags, labeled for those three locations, contained about a dozen food items that were discreetly placed into the backpack of young students who qualified. Students in the free-lunch program received the food at their schools each Friday, ensuring they would have enough food to last the weekend.


School personnel reported seeing kids come to school and noticed it was obvious some hadn’t had anything to eat over the weekend. At lunch, they socked food way, trying to get seconds and getting food for their friends.


Fortunately, there are options, thanks to caring individuals and businesses that have joined forces to ensure food is available.


We would like to think after the April 6 Empty Bowls luncheon, there just might be fewer empty bowls on some tables in Greene County.


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