LENOIR — The amount of hungry children within Caldwell County is up to 27.5%, one of the many statistics the Yokefellow’s 5th annual Empty Bowls event aims to improve.

Sharon Harmon, executive director, said, “food insecurity is defined as the lack of a sufficient amount of food for a family,” or a family’s lack of understanding on resources available for food supply.

Caldwell County’s total food insecurity rate is 15.6%, an increase from 13.1% in 2017.

In comparison, the North Carolina food insecurity rate is 19.4%, according to a study published by Feeding America.

The study also shows the national child food insecurity rate is 14.6%, while the North Carolina child food insecurity rate is 18.3%.

“Yokefellow finds these numbers to be completely unacceptable and works each and every day to provide healthy, nutritious foods from their pantry and from the kitchen at the Lenoir Emergency Outreach Shelter,” Harmon said.

Founded between 1990 and 1991 by a Michigan community, Empty Bowls has since become a national event, synonymous with supporting hunger efforts, Harmon said.

The event encourages artists and other groups to create and donate bowls, which guests choose to keep as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world.

Local chefs also prepare their signature soups and breads to then serve as a meal, Harmon said.

“The Empty Bowls Steering Committee has recruited several local chefs to prepare five ‘local favorite’ soups for a hearty meal of soup, bread and hand prepared desserts,” she said.

“In exchange for the meal and the handcrafted bowl, guests will pay a suggested donation of $25 each,” she added. “One hundred% of the October 30th meal proceeds are designated in support of the Yokefellow food pantry program.”

Harmon says members of the community who are faced with food scarcity are able to pick up meals and toiletries every 30 days.

“We pack back bags with five meals, including breakfast items, with portions that will feed a family of four,” she added, “If a single person were to pick up a bag, that could feed them for up to two weeks in some cases.”

This year’s event follows last year’s forced hiatus due to COVID-19, and Harmon would like to assure the community that the return of Yokefellow’s Empty Bowls event is “COVID safe.”

“Previously, we’ve had it in the beautiful cafeteria of William Lenoir Middle School, but with the pandemic, we will be having it outside this year at our new location,” she said.

“This year the soups will be presented in take-out containers and all desserts and breads are pre-packaged,” she added, “guests will still choose a bowl that day to keep…”

Attendees can drop by anytime between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m at Yokefellow’s new facility, located at 202 Harper Avenue in Lenoir, to support the on-going effort to end hunger.

Reporter Candice Simmons can be reached at (828)610-8721

Reporter Candice Simmons can be reached at (828)610-8721