calendar March 31, 2022 in Communications

Souper Bowl a Big Deal in Delco

You think the Super Bowl is a big deal?  In Springfield, Delco, the SOUPer Bowl is a big deal!

Launched by youth in Columbia, South Carolina in 1990, the movement to ask people to donate a can of food or a cash donation on Super Bowl Sunday has spread across the nation. (See “Souper Bowl Origins” below for more.)

Springfield Township in Delaware County has taken this a step further.

Beginning in 2005, seven congregations of the Springfield Ministerium joined together to magnify the offerings raised for hungry people in Delaware County.  The seven congregations were First Presbyterian, St. Francis Roman Catholic, Princeton Presbyterian, St. Matthew Lutheran, The Blue Church (Independent Baptist), Life Christian Fellowship (Assemblies of God), and Covenant United Methodist Church. Three of the congregations, St. Francis, St. Matthew, and Princeton Presbyterian (now named Tree of Life) were set as drop-off sites.  Members of the congregations and the community were encouraged to bring food to these sites between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on the Saturday before the Souper Bowl.  Each congregation then also had a collection of cans or cash on the Sunday of the Big Game.  By working together, and inviting the community to join in the effort, rather than a few hundred cans of food, several thousand were collected.

This is what more than 54,000 food items looks like!

As the years have progressed, so has the coordination and reach of this community-wide effort to ease hunger.  The process quickly expanded to making flyers to distribute to every home in the Township.  The youth groups of the respective congregations, and other willing members, began canvassing the entire six square miles of Springfield the week before the Super Bowl.  The flyers alerted people to the need around us, and invited them to, on the following Saturday, the day before the Game, place bags of food on their front porch or in their front yard.  Then on the Saturday of Super Bowl Weekend, the same volunteers went around the Township and collected the offerings left for the effort.  People were also welcomed to go to the drop-off sites with their gifts of food if they preferred, or if their offering was inadvertently not picked up.

At the collection sites, dozens of other volunteers waited to count, sort, and deliver the food to local food pantries for distribution.  The initial recipients were Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Prospect Park, Chester East Side Ministries in Chester, and the Bernadine Center, also in Chester, all participants in the Delaware County Interfaith Food Coalition.

Volunteers loaded a 20-foot truck with more than 54,000 food items collected across Springfield Township.

These efforts to get the word out then expanded to lawn signs across the Township, notifications in the local paper, and advertisement on the local township T.V. station.  The participation also expanded from the churches to include the local Boy and Girl Scout Troops, and the service clubs in the local schools.  It has also expanded to include the towns of Morton, Rutledge, Media, and Aston, adding collections sites, and supporting even more pantries across the County.

This year we received a record number of units (a can, box, bottle, or dollar each count as one unit).  54,362 units were collected to ease hunger in Delco!!

This number was the highest collection for the Souper Bowl of Caring in all of Pennsylvania, and the seventh-highest total in the entire country!  Thanks be to God!

St. Timothy in Aston received 4,200 items for their food bank.  The number of units that passed through the St. Matthew Collection site was 11,845!  To deliver the food, St. Matthew used a portion of the money given to them from an LDR food grant to rent a 20-foot U-Haul truck.  (Last year a 15-foot truck was not enough!)  If you are curious about what 11,000 items of food looks like, here are a few photos.

Volunteers prepare to collect, sort, and pack food from across the township.

Most of the food from St. Matthew was delivered to Loaves and Fishes, with a few hundred items going to the smaller St. Mark (UMC) Food Bank in Marple Township.

As exciting as this is, the reality amid this good news is that this food will not last long, while the need will continue.  This is why St. Matthew has an ongoing collection on the first Sunday of each month.  Though we do not hit such incredible numbers each month, regularly sharing from our abundance helps the food banks around us continue to “feed the need.”  May we not grow weary in our efforts to feed those around us in Jesus’ name!

— Pastor Karl M. Richard,
St. Matthew, Springfield, Delco

Super Bowl Origins

Many of you are likely familiar with the Souper Bowl of Caring and its origins.  In 1990 a youth group met at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia South Carolina.  As they were considering the cost of an ad for the Super Bowl, they considered how many hungry people could be fed with that amount of money.  They decided to encourage all the members of their congregation to donate $1 or a can of food to aid the hungry in their community.  They called it the Souper Bowl.

The Reverend Brad Smith wrote this simple prayer to bring home the need on a day of tremendous excess in our nation: the Super Bowl, both with its ads, and its massive parties:

Lord, even as we enjoy the Super Bowl football game, help us be mindful of those who are without a bowl of soup to eat.

Congregations across the nation have followed the example of Spring Valley Church.  On Super Bowl Sunday they encourage people to bring “a dollar or a can for every woman, child, and man” in the congregation.