On February 1, 2018, the Nease High School cafeteria will be transformed into an epicure’s delight when the school welcomes the community to its Third Annual SOUPer Bowl from 6-8 pm. Accomplished chefs from across the area are joining forces to serve some of their finest creations in a memorable soup-tasting event. The proceeds from the evening support First Coast Blessings in a Backpack, a program that benefits students in St. Johns County School District.
Blessings in a Backpack is a program that primarily serves students on free and reduced-price lunches in school. While dependent on the school meals for their nutrition during the week, a lot of these children do not have guaranteed meals waiting for them at home over the weekend. First Coast Blessings steps in to fill that gap by sending food home with these students who are at risk for hunger. Often, this is the only nourishment available to them during the 65 hours between lunch at school on Friday and the start of school on Monday.
The consequences of hunger in schools range from the inability to concentrate to poor academic performance. Extensive studies have shown that grades are better, and morale higher, when students do not have to worry about an empty belly. “Hunger should not be a worry or challenge for today’s youth,” says Kimberly Ward, Managing Director, First Coast Blessings in a Backpack.“It is important that, as a community, we do everything we can to feed them. I have seen the direct and powerful impact that this program has on the students, as well as the families and school as a whole.”
The hope that no child in St. Johns County should go hungry has been the driving force behind the SOUPer Bowl event. Nease students have been packing food for school children at Webster Elementary for over seven years in the only student-led and organized program in the area. However, about two years back, matters came to a head when it was discovered that the available funding would be insufficient to feed the rising numbers of students in need at Webster Elementary.
Accordingly, the SOUPer Bowl event was envisioned and implemented by a group of parents, students, and administration at Nease to cover the deficit. Over a hundred students now combine talents from the Hospitality & Tourism, Digital Design, International Baccalaureate and Television Production academies at Nease to tackle hunger in the county schools. The response of participating restaurants has been overwhelming. The SOUPer ,Bowl is sustained by staunch supporters like The Ice Plant, Trasca & Co., M Shack, Blue Bamboo, Gator’s Dockside, Sawgrass Marriott and The Sawgrass Country Club, who have been part of the event from the start, as well as for those who have joined the SOUPer Bowl effort this year like the Peony Cafe & Bistro, Two Creeks and 5th Element. Over 20 restaurants will be the at the event this year. In addition, every guest can pick a specially handcrafted bowl made by a St. Johns County student to take home as a memento of the event.
The event has successfully raised more than $60,000 for Blessings in the last two years. The goal this year, is for the SOUPer Bowl III to try and support even more students. It costs $100 to feed a child for one school year. While Blessings currently covers over 800 students in the county, several more children who qualify could benefit greatly from the program. All monies raised go towards feeding students in St. Johns County.
Tickets for the event are $25 per person. Both ticket purchases and donations are accepted and can be made on the website or Facebook page. Business sponsorships are still available by contacting [email protected]
For tickets, information and participating restaurants, please visit the website: www.StudentsTackleHunger.org