Souper Bowl Challenge encourages teams to compete for most food donations

BUCHANAN — As football fans prepare to cheer on rival teams in the Super Bowl this sports season – Redbud Area Ministries is hoping the community will team up and help them score ample food pantry donations during the fifth-annual Souper Bowl Challenge.

Through Feb. 8, organizations, families, clubs and church groups are encouraged to donate food to the local food pantry. The three teams who bring in the most food will be awarded a handmade clay bowl and, of course, bragging rights. Teams must contact RAM to sign up by calling (269) 695-5083 or message the organization’s Facebook page.

On an average Thursday, Jerry Seals, a RAM volunteer of four years, took stock of the food pantry and helped his fellow volunteers sort donations. He said the Souper Bowl challenge comes at a time of year when not many people are donating and supplies to the pantry can become strained.

“[The Souper Bowl Challenge] is a way to get everyone in the community participating,” Seals said.

The competition officially started Jan. 22. Jan Nowak-Walters, the executive director for Redbud Area Ministries, said the challenge has so far been “light” on participation. She said it is not too late for people to get involved.

“It’s pretty fun,” Nowak-Walters said. “It is a rousing competing. It’s just fun to have a target and a purpose and there is nothing wrong with some good old healthy competition for a great cause. You have all the components there for a really fun event.”

With cold temperatures sweeping the region this past week and many families still recovering from holiday spending, Nowak-Walters said many in the community need support from the pantry.

“Families are really tapped right now for utility expenses,” Nowak-Walters said. “We can alleviate some of that financial burden to those families by providing pantry assistance. [But] for that to happen, we need our community partners to get excited about Souper Bowl V.”

Last year, the food pantry assisted 1,954 households and distributed 47,603 pounds of food. In December alone, the organization supported 294 households and distributed 3,557 pounds of food.

“The Souper Bowl Challenge is a critical event for us,” Nowak-Walters said.

Teams must drop off their donations during regular business hours from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and 9 a.m. to noon and 3 to 5:45 p.m. Wednesdays. Progress updates will be announced on RAM’s Facebook page.

The commemorative bowl that the winning teams will receive is made by artists for the Empty Bowl fundraiser. Money from the spring event also helps to support RAM.

RAM is a faith-based nonprofit that helps families in the Buchanan and Galien area by providing a food pantry, clothing closet, household goods and toiletries. In addition, the organization helps families with utility and eviction assistance. A ministry room, where people can ask for prayer is also a component to the organization.

As people stock their pantries in preparation for the big game, Nowak-Walters hopes they will also consider supporting team RAM.

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