As houses around the 253 fill with the scent of baked pies and roasting turkeys for Thanksgiving, ponder the fact that there are many of your neighbors who don’t have pies cooking in the oven, or hams roasting on a fire or a roof to shelter them from the rain.
Official statistics state that about 12 percent of Pierce County residents live below the poverty line, but that stat might be much higher because of the chronic trouble of underreporting of such things. In any event, there are a lot of people in need as the economy continues to flounder and jobs, even if they are available, fail to make ends meet for many families.
That fact makes the holidays particularly stiff since heating bills go up as the thermometer level drops, and children are out of school for holiday break, which creates child care expenses or lost work hours for parents while society demands a culture of spending and gift giving. Toss in the expenses of a persistent cough or a slip on an icy road, and the balance tips against a lot of paycheck-to-paycheck neighbors.
But there are many ways to help your neighbors in need. Businesses, including the Tacoma Weekly, are gathering food and supplies. So drop a few cans of soup in the collection bins or a few dollars into the collection baskets. Maybe even donate some time to aid the effort and see the need first hand.
Another effort to watch is Emergency Food Network’s annual Empty Bowls event this weekend. Groups and individual artists decorate bowls for sale with all the proceeds going to efforts to aid the needy. Empty Bowls began as a grassroots project more than a decade ago for local artists and community members to work together to assist people suffering from hunger. The event now spans to 12 countries and many states across the U.S., generating millions of dollars for various hunger relief agencies.
Bowl buyers then get them filled with soups of all sorts, donated by Pacific Grill, The Swiss, Adriatic Grill, Infinite Soups, AmeRAWcan Bistro, The French Hen, The Hub, Masa, Alina Soups, and Chambers Bay.
More than 1,200 bowls are purchased for the home or for holiday gifts, and more than 700 bowls of soup are consumed during the two-hour event. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, Nov. 23, at Charles Wright Academy from 1-3:30 p.m. Admission is free. Bowl prices start at $10 and go up from there.
This year’s Empty Bowls has an exciting new element, an Empty Bowls Cookbook. This cookbook contains more than 50 soup recipes from local restaurants, elected officials and executive directors of nonprofit organization from around Pierce County. The cookbook will be sold at Empty Bowls for $20 per book, with all proceeds going to EFN. For the last 14 years, EFN has hosted Empty Bowls in Pierce County, highlighting works from talented veteran artists and new local talent. In 2012, EFN raised $28,000 from Empty Bowls, this is the equivalent of 148,965 meals for food-insecure Pierce County residents.
In 2012, EFN distributed 15.1 million pounds of food to 67 area food banks, meal sites and shelters. EFN made it possible for our partner food programs to accommodate 1,381,602 total visits, providing 16.7 million meals to hungry people in Pierce County. Since 2008, the demand for emergency food has increased 67 percent.
With an administrative overhead of under 4 percent, EFN distributes $12 worth of food for every $1 it receives, so a little really goes a long way.
The above opinion represents the views of Tacoma Weekly's editorial board.