Nease to host third annual SOUPer Bowl


On Feb. 1, 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 to 8 p.m.

Accomplished chefs from across the area are joining forces once again 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 serves students on free and reduced lunches in school. While dependent on the school meals for their nutrition during the week, many of these children do not have guaranteed meals waiting for them at home over the weekend. First Coast Blessings in a Backpack steps in to fill that gap by sending food home with these students who are at risk of hunger. The event has successfully raised more than $60,000 for Blessings over the last two years.

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,” said Kimberly Ward, managing director of 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 ago, 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.

As a result, the SOUPer Bowl event was envisioned and implemented by a group of parents, students and administrators at Nease to cover the deficit. Over 100 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 SOUPer Bowl is sustained by restaurants 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. Joining the SOUper Bowl effort this year are restaurants like the Peony Cafe & Bistro, Two Creeks and 5th Element. Over 20 restaurants will be 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 from the event.

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 For tickets, information and participating restaurants, please