Monday, February 19, 2018

Annual Souper Bowl fund drive begins

Megan Hix

By Megan Hix
Jan. 24, 2018 at 11:45 p.m.

For Longview Community Ministries, one of the world's biggest sports spectacles presents an opportunity to involve churches and businesses in collecting food for people in need.

The organization's Souper Bowl food drive will accept canned food donations from about 20 churches, schools and businesses for its community Food Box between Sunday and Feb. 9. This past year's drive brought in about 13,500 cans, or enough to feed more than 1,000 families, according to Director of Food Services Doug Buck.

"Every can helps," he said. "Every bit of food they donate, regardless or how much or how little, benefits our community."

Buck said the drive started about 15 years ago with six churches. Since then, he said collections have grown by 10 percent to 15 percent each year and have expanded to include businesses and schools.

Each participating group competes for a trophy based on the number of cans donated. Buck said First Lutheran Church of Longview has won the past two years in a row.

"In the last several years, there's been a lot more participation and enthusiasm," he said. "(The rivalry) between ministers gets pretty competitive."

Buck said the most in-demand food items are green beans, corn, soup, mixed vegetables and 1-pound bags of rice or beans. Each of these items are included in every box of food the pantry hands out, he said.

"We encourage all of our participants to bring some very basic staples," Buck said. "Those 1-pound bags go a long way. They provide several meals for small families."

While food drives are popular around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, Buck said his agency needs to restock early every year, and the food drive competition is a fun way to get people involved. Buck said he encourages people to throw Super Bowl watch parties and ask their guests to bring a can or two to donate.

"We go to a lot of stuff during the mid-November to end-of-December timeframe. We really tend to deplete our supplies," he said.

"So having a food drive right after the first of the year is something we need to do. ... (The competition) has been the best kicker to get us back up to where we need to be to fill the boxes."



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