Brad Smith, then a seminary intern serving at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina, gave birth to the Souper Bowl of Caring with this prayer: “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.”
This youth-led movement to help hungry people shifts the attention given to the Super Bowl to collect dollars and canned food for those who struggle to put enough nutrition on their tables. Youth collect donations at their schools and churches in soup pots, and then send every dollar directly to a local anti-hunger group of their choice.
In that first year, 1990, with 22 churches in the area participating, they raised $5,700. Each year the contributions increase, and in 2002 the now Reverend Brad Smith became the first paid staff.
Twenty-five years after its founding, lamentably hunger in the United States is still with us. Why? Because more than 45 million Americans live in poverty. The majority of these people work, but still cannot earn enough to guarantee their daily bread. Some 15.3 million children live in food-insecure households!
In 2016, Souper Bowl raised more than $8 million. The spirit of generosity clearly exists. And though we produce more than enough food for everyone, poverty and inequality in our nation prevent many from enjoying this basic human right. As people with faith in the imminent kingdom of God, let us join in the difficult work of reshaping systems that prevent the flourishing of life.
Andrew Kang Bartlett, associate for National Hunger Concerns
Let us pray
Loving God, we absorb your goodness in the food we eat, in the beauty our eyes receive, in the fellowship of family and community, and in the unconditional love you shower upon us. May we take these gifts and become mirrors of such fullness through words of praise and, as you’ve instructed, by loving our neighbors and working for justice in the land. Amen.