Want to help?
• For more information on the Souper Bowl of Caring or donating to the Manna House, go to www.souperbowl.org/tacklehunger/.
Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers fans will be drawn together tonight thanks, in part, to the legendary smorgasbords that have come to be associated with Super Bowl parties. At gatherings around the country, sports enthusiasts will huddle around wide-screen televisions, savoring pizza, nachos and wings along with every last play in the big game.
According to a compilation of Super Bowl facts and figures gleaned from various sports and health sites and posted at www.treehugger.com, Super Bowl XLV viewers will consume an estimated 1 million chicken wings, 28 million pounds of potato chips and 325.5 gallons of beer.
As they host and attend parties, most of the game’s projected 151 million viewers won’t think of the estimated 45 million Americans who may have nothing to eat, said Pastor Katrina Deason, director of the Manna House nonprofit food pantry in Hinesville.
"It’s a day when people get together to celebrate. They don’t spare the expense and there’s nothing wrong with that," she said, "but while we’re gathering and enjoying our Super Bowl parties, we should think of those who can’t have the hot wings, chips and dip or even a hot meal."
For the past nine years, Deason and Manna House contributors and volunteers have helped to feed hundreds of Liberty County residents in need. Two years ago, the pantry expanded its services to include a local food kitchen.
The kitchen serves nearly 30 to 40 meals daily, five times a week, Deason said, and the cost to maintain the service climbs as more people face hunger and food shortages.
"Last year, we saw our numbers nearly double," she said. "In 2009, we served an estimated 5, 500 bowls of soup. That’s a lot when you really think about it."
That’s why some local church youth groups, including those from Allenhurst Presbyterian Church and Baconton Missionary Baptist Church, have agreed to generously commemorate today’s Super Bowl by tackling hunger in Liberty County.
"They call it the ‘Souper Bowl of Caring’ campaign," Deason said.
The Souper Bowl of Caring, which is associated with TackleHunger.org, involves more than a quarter of a million young people across the nation who work to transform Super Bowl weekend into the nation’s largest celebration of giving and serving, according to Nancy Atkinson, communications coordinator for TackleHunger.org.
"For the past few weeks youth have collected donations through congregations and schools and will donate 100 percent of their collection to a local charity of their choice," Atkinson said in an e-mail.
Allenhurst Presbyterian Church member Charles Rogers said his congregation got involved in the Souper Bowl of Caring 12 years ago and has continued the tradition.
Since then, members of the church have collected more than $2,000 for the campaign, with all of the proceeds going to the Manna House, where Rogers serves as the food bank’s board president.
"We know that these monies will be well-used to help as many families as possible," he said. "It goes to a good cause."
Baconton Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Herman Scott said young people usually collect donations for the Souper Bowl of Caring in a large soup pot.
This is the first year his church’s youth group has participated.
"I chose to get involved first of all because I really have a heart for the least, the last and the lost. The members of Baconton have joined me in reaching out to the community because we care. We cannot help everyone, but we are helping someone and for that one, we have made a difference," he said.
BCMB will present a check to the Manna House on Monday.
"We hope we can inspire other churches to give something," Scott said. "Imagine if each church just gave $100 to feed the hungry in our county."
Considering the food bank can purchase food for less than 26 cents a pound from America’s Second Harvest, that is a lot of food, Deason said.
"Soup is a wonderful thing. There is a lot you can do with it and the staff at the Manna House work diligently to make it delightful with whatever we have," the pantry director said.
"The Super Bowl may be here, but it’s not too late for anyone to participate in the Souper Bowl of Caring," Deason said. "Simply get your bowls out, take up a donation and remember the hungry."