Food drive morphs Super Bowl into Souper Bowl

Jan 18 2013 - 6:57pm

Images

Katy Wetz promotes Souper Bowl Sunday at church last year. (Photo courtesy of Community United Methodist Church)
Amy Miller shows some of the food collected for those in need during Souper Bowl Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Community United Methodist Church)
Katy Wetz promotes Souper Bowl Sunday at church last year. (Photo courtesy of Community United Methodist Church)
Amy Miller shows some of the food collected for those in need during Souper Bowl Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Community United Methodist Church)

There's a way to observe America's football obsession in a way that benefits the community.

That way is to hold a "Souper Bowl" on Super Bowl Sunday, which will be Feb. 3 this year.

As the name implies, having a "Souper Bowl" means collecting food for those in need.

And there are some area churches that have been celebrating the annual event in this way for a handful of years.

"We've given an awful lot," said David Keene, a member at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Ogden. "Last year, we gave over 18 cans per member, and that's even members that weren't coming to church."

He said the church has about 90 members.

There's a national movement to promote churches and groups holding "Souper Bowl" events.

Currently, nearly 112,000 groups have registered with the organization, according to souperbowl.org.

On that site are a number of free downloads to help organizations with such efforts.

Keene said his church has been helping for six years.

During that time, a rivalry has developed between Trinity Presbyterian and neighboring churches Ogden Japanese Christian Church and First Presbyterian Church.

The food collected at these churches is donated every year to Share, Inc.

"I think we happened to win it last year," Keene said proudly, noting that bragging rights are the only prize in the contest.

"There is quite a volume between the churches," he said. "Share usually sends out a truck to go to the churches because we get so much."

First United Methodist Church of Marriott-Slaterville, which used to be near those churches, also has been in the rivalry, but this year that church has changed opponents.

This year, First United Methodist Church is duking it out with Community United Methodist Church of Washington Terrace to earn bragging rights for collecting the most food.

And both churches want to put the word out to the community to help them.

Pastor Diane Bell at Community United Methodist Church said she had seen "Souper Bowl" done at churches in Colorado and she suggested it to her congregation last year. She said members were excited about the concept.

She said Super Bowl Sunday offers a good chance for people to think about others.

"We're kind of gorging on foods we don't need," she said. "As we are partying and playing, we are helping folks who don't have food. The food bank always needs food."

But, she said, adding a rivalry between the two churches has made it more fun this year.

"We both just want to win," she said. "We don't have a prize, just the satisfaction of knowing that you won -- the satisfaction that, in the midst of something that can be so much a cultural event, that maybe we can make a difference in some lives."

Bell said community members may help her church by donating nonperishable food items any time from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays at the church, 163 W. 4800 South, west of Bonneville High School, in Washington Terrace.

Brenda Boren, administrative assistant at First United Methodist Church, said her congregation has played up the football theme in getting members excited about the event.

She said members will put a scoreboard up in the back of the church.

In the church newsletter, Boren wrote about how the church's "goal" was to be able to donate food and about how such donations would "score" for those in need.

"We said whoever wins gets the coveted Souper Bowl ring," she said. "I'm not sure what that is."

To help First United Methodist Church, leave food donations at the facility, at 1339 West 400 North in Marriott-Slaterville, during business hours.

The two Methodist churches are collecting food for the Joyce Hansen Hall Food Bank, which also has adopted the "Souper Bowl" tradition this year.

The organization soon will be running ads in the Standard-Examiner to encourage people and organizations to collect funds as part of their Super Bowl celebrations.

Karina Martin, volunteer coordinator at Catholic Community Services and the Joyce Hansen Hall Food Bank, said she finds the competition between the two Presbyterian churches both humorous and potentially very helpful.

"I love the friendly rivalry going on," Martin said. "It would be an excellent thing if we had more competition in this event."

Martin said she knows there are churches that have been collecting food for "Souper Bowl," but they have remained quiet in their service.

"It would be great if other churches would take it on as well," she said. "Any time during that week, prior or after, is a great time to donate," she said.

"We would love to see friendly competition between other churches, because it is going to such a wonderful thing, as long as it doesn't go to actual blows."

The food bank is promoting the "Souper Bowl" this year to the public by asking people to think about what they spend on football food and donate a portion of that to the food bank.

But, Martin said, "Food is wonderful. We would take that too."

Donations may be dropped off at the food bank, at 2504 F Ave. in Ogden, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For information, call Martin at the food bank at 801-428-1296.

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