Since 1990, Super Bowl Sunday has marked an annual event for churches across the country as youth groups and congregations engage in “Souper Bowl of Caring” activities to address hunger needs in local communities. The aim of Souper Bowl efforts include: “Transforming the Big Game into a nation-wide movement inspiring people to give locally and make a collective impact on hunger.”
Detailed information, suggested activities, and group registration are conveniently found through the Souper Bowl website, www.souperbowl.org. The non-profit organization also offers a social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Simply search: Souper Bowl of Caring.
I’ve served several congregations that have actively supported Souper Bowl of Caring events; each group approaches the day in different ways. Here are three ideas to spark your planning.
1) One congregation holds a congregation-wide Stone Soup Supper on Souper Bowl Sunday, building on the familiar children’s story, Stone Soup by Marcia Brown. Members of the Hunger-Action Committee, the youth group, and parents unite to host a meal after the congregation’s morning worship service. Church members are invited to bring a can of vegetables to contribute to the Stone Soup and an additional non-perishable food item to donate to the Souper Bowl collection. Youth and parents prepare home-baked bread and soup stock before worship; donated vegetables are added to the soup. The scent wafts into the sanctuary, reminding members to stop in for a warm lunch before heading home to watch the Big Game.
During lunch, the book Stone Soup is read aloud and table tent cards encourage table conversations highlighting the big impact that can be made when individuals each share a small bit. The “cost” for the meal is single-serving canned or non-perishable food or a monetary donation toward the Souper Bowl of Caring. All donations, cash and food, are given to the community’s Backpack program, which provides take-home meals to school children on weekends.
2) Another congregation builds their Souper Bowl efforts around a different children’s book, Grandpa’s Soup by Eiko Kadono and Satomi Ichikawa. In the book, a lonely man makes a pot of soup and invites three little mice to join him for a meal. The next day, the mice bring animal friends for a meal. Then the animals bring others, including a small gathering of children. Soon, the lonely man has used every bowl and pot in his house to serve the wide range of visitors who come to enjoy his soup. His hospitality results in easing his loneliness and multiplying his joy in life.
The youth group offers similar activities as the congregation that focuses on the Stone Soup story. A meal is prepared and served; the story is read; the focus is on joy in sharing. Donations of canned goods and money are given to a local soup kitchen that serves hot lunches to underserved persons in the community.
3) A third congregation takes their Souper Bowl canned food collection to the church’s local neighborhood. With adult supervision, members of the youth group attach notes about their Souper Bowl collection to paper grocery bags and delivers them door-to-door through the neighborhood the week before Souper Bowl Sunday. The notes tell the neighbors that the youth will return the following Sunday, and if the neighbors want to donate canned goods, they can leave the filled bags on their doorstep.
One year, the local news media got wind of the youth group’s efforts and sent a reporter to accompany the youth as they collected donated goods from the neighborhood. The neighbors’ responses were overwhelming. Dozens of bags of food were collected. Neighbors and church members also appreciated seeing the group’s work and their collection results shown on a local station-break during the Super Bowl.
The Souper Bowl of Caring is a well-established and respected project that involves young people and congregations in raising awareness and addressing hunger needs in local communities. There is no shortage of ideas of how to involve our people in the annual project. These are a few ideas to add to the efforts.