The Hidden Reality of Hunger

The Hidden Reality of Hunger

The families in our communities are often forced to make impossible trade-offs. Forego dinners this week to pay rent. Skip perishable items so the fridge can be unplugged and the electricity bill kept low. And on and on it goes.

The result of these trade offs is called food insecurity - every day, 20% of children in our communities live with uncertainty or limited availability of the food they need to stay nourished and grow.

EVENT | Empty Bowls: Nourishing our Community

“First and foremost, I’m a farmer,” Elly says emphatically. “As someone who thinks about nourishing and growing living things every day, childhood hunger drives me crazy — how are kids supposed to grow up and learn well if they aren’t being fed properly?”

Elly is also a talented potter and the host of Vancouver’s annual Empty Bowls fundraiser - happening this year on Wednesday, November 28th.

“Empty Bowls is a fundraiser that’s happened around the world since 1990,” she explains. “It started in Michigan as a way for the pottery and arts community to support initiatives fighting hunger in our communities - and it has spread far and wide.”

The event is simple: artists donate bowls to be used in a soup and salad long table dinner in their community. Ticket proceeds and potter sales go directly to a local charity that feeds those in need.

Elly stumbled across Empty Bowls three years ago when a potter she followed on Instagram was hosting an Empty Bowls fundraiser in Oklahoma. Elly sent some of her own pottery to be used in the event.

“The potter encouraged me to look for an Empty Bowls event closer to home - when there wasn’t one, I felt compelled to start one myself.”

Four years later, Elly’s event is one of the highlights of the Backpack Buddy social calendar. With over $10,000 raised to date and over 800 bowls contributed, Elly has been a true champion for Backpack Buddies - raising both funding and awareness within our local community.

“When I started Empty Bowls in Vancouver, I chose Backpack Buddies as the beneficiary because I couldn’t think of a better community to support than children in need that need to eat so they can learn.” - Elly, Founder of Empty Bowls Vancouver


Empty Bowls 2018

Wednesday, November 28th | 11 East 7th Avenue, Vancouver

Pottery sale: 5:00 PM | Dinner: 6:15 PM


In collaboration with potter, Janaki Larsen

Delicious (predominantly vegetarian) food by Julie at Everyone At the Table

Tickets: $60 - includes dinner and a bowl of your choosing to take home

Hunger Heroes: Ruby and Sandra

Ruby’s Birthday Tradition

Every year, we all turn a year older. It’s a day where we celebrate our lives, the year that has passed, and all that we are looking forward to in the one ahead.

Typically, it’s all about us.

But, for one Vancouver girl, her birthday isn’t about her at all.

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When I heard about Backpack Buddies, I really thought that it was important that kids get food after school. Sometimes kids go home without any food at all to eat that night and that’s not fair.
— Ruby

It all started on Ruby’s 10th birthday - a few years ago - when she asked her friends to come to her birthday party with food instead of gifts.

“We gave them a list of food items that Backpack Buddies needs and everyone brought food,” she remembers. “Someone even brought 50 juice boxes! Everyone was pretty cool about it".

It’s a tradition that has endured. Recently, Ruby used her Bat Mitzvah celebration to help kids in her neighbourhood who need Backpack Buddies.

At the heart of Backpack Buddies is our Kids Helping Kids model. Our team works with ‘buddy schools’ and students like Ruby to build their own understanding and empathy, and to be the force of change in their communities through volunteering and fundraising.

Every week, children at Metro Vancouver donor schools pack Backpack Buddies of food for recipient schools in their communities that have children in need. In 2017/18, we had over 200 Student Heroes at 13 donor schools volunteering their time and energy to help other children in their communities.

“We’re extremely proud of her and we’re happy she’s passionate about this,” Ruby’s mom, Sandra says.

As a family we value giving back to our community in some way shape or form. This is why I love Backpack Buddies - because Ruby can really help out in a tangible way. She can really relate to the cause and get her head around the need — kids who are arriving at school hungry.
— Sandra

Learn about how you can teach your kids the value of giving and get them involved as Hunger Heroes.

Food4Thought 5.0: More Featured Chefs

Childhood Favorites, Transformed.

Food4Thought 5.0 is coming up later this week and we can’t wait to taste what our amazing team of chefs have come up with! We’ve asked them to riff of their childhood favorites in honour of the kids we serve every weekend.

Last week we introduced you to Kate Horesman and Josh Gale. Today, we’re featuring the other three stellar chefs in the line up: David Robertson, Juno Kim and Kris Barnholden.

Meet the Chefs

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David Robertson

You know what they say about a dirty apron… it’s the sign of a passionate chef! David Robertson from The Dirty Apron will be joining us at Food4Thought 5.0 on September 20th. David’s main course is a high-end version of a chicken pot pie – a favourite meal of his growing up. His goal is to have guests revisit their childhood in a culinary way, swapping out boxed lunches for more elegant plated versions that taste like ‘home’. David’s ongoing volunteer work with inner-city students in Vancouver, and seeing firsthand the need for programs like Backpack Buddies was a catalyst for lending his support this year.

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Juno Kim

Remember that one thing you hated to eat as a kid? Well, Chef Juno Kim is all grown up now (!) and has transformed his childhood nemesis into a delicious main course for Food4Thought 5.0. Juno believes the work that Backpack Buddies does is invaluable to the communities they serve, not only feeding kids, but affecting the present and future of many families.

Kris Barnholden

Chef Kris Barnholden has lent his creative vision and talents to restaurants in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and London. After preparing a dish for Backpack Buddies’ Food 4 Thought 5.0 event, he can add school gymnasium to that list! Kris is honored to be helping raise funds by preparing a meal in one of Backpack Buddies’ recipient schools, where students receive backpacks of food every Friday to ensure they have enough to eat over the weekend.


Food4Thought 5.0 is happening on Thursday, September 20th at Admiral Seymour Elementary School. Your ticket includes a welcome cocktail, a five-course dinner, beer and wine and live music from Emily Chambers.