Hot dogs, chicken wings, chips and dips: these are the traditional Super Bowl snacks for many. But at St. Paul Lutheran Church, game day food is soup.
This year was the third annual "Souper Bowl" Sunday Soup Challenge at St. Paul. For about an hour after church, various teams served rolls, desserts and their best soup to raise money for the church.
Here's how it works: People travel from table to table sampling soups, then vote for their favorite through donations, said Sally Kraayenbrink, event chairperson.
"The winning team is determined by 'yards' gained - one dollar equals one yard," she explained.
Opposing teams can also purchase 'penalties' to drop in a competitor's jar to take away yards, she said.
Judging by the donated yardage, the best soup this year was a "mystery chili" created by the St. Paul Lutheran School staff team. They received the Golden Ladle prize.
Six teams served up soup, Kraayenbrink said. She estimated 185 people attended, mostly from within St. Paul or its sister congregations, Good Shepherd Lutheran and Prince of Peace Lutheran.
About $1,500 was raised. It will help complete the church's music room.
Souper Bowl of Caring
Before the noon meal, another tradition played out at many Fort Dodge churches, as they took part in the 22nd annual Souper Bowl of Caring.
"In 1990, a youth group in South Carolina was inspired by a simple prayer that said, 'Lord, as we enjoy the Super Bowl game, help us be mindful of those without a bowl of soup to eat.' Over the past 20 years, $81 million has been raised for individual charities," said Marilyn Monteith, Christian Education coordinator at First Baptist Church.
"It's done by the youth. We have the kids at the back with big soup kettles to collect the money," she said.
One of the kids involved was high school junior Janessa Laupp.
"We gave a presentation in front of the church to tell them what the money was for, and where (the idea) came from," Laupp said.
This is her second year of involvement with the program.
All of the proceeds go to the women's and children's homeless shelter at the YWCA, Laupp said. She said she believed this was a good choice because "we have lots of organizations who help the men's shelter, but the women's and children's shelter seems to get left out.
"It's really important because I'm not a huge football person, but everybody gets caught up in the excitement of the parties and get-togethers. I think it definitely helps us realize there are some people who can't enjoy that," Laupp said.
At least four other churches in town have been doing the program for years, including First Congregational United Church of Christ, First Presbyterian, First Evangelical Free and Grace Lutheran. Not all participating churches show up on the official Souper Bowl website though; some continue the tradition on their own.
Supported charities include the Lord's Cupboard food pantry and the Lutheran Church World Hunger Appeal.
"We did what's called a noisy offering," said Laura Stover, Christian educator at First Presbyterian. "We brought in big empty tin cans. The children went out through the congregation, and people emptied their pockets of their change and threw it in. Every time you heard a coin clunk, you could think how that was going to fill someone's tummy with a bowl of soup. It was a great visual, multisensory experience."
At Grace Lutheran, the kids wore football helmets while taking donations, said the Rev. Matthew Martins.
"We're thinking about how we're eating really well that day, and we want to do something for people who don't have much to eat," he said.
The First Evangelical Free Church uses the event as a food drive for the Backpack Buddies charity, said Kristin Hatton.
"Food is distributed to children at the Fort Dodge elementary school, and put in backpacks for them to take home for kids who probably would not have food to eat over the weekend," she said.
She also said the fifth- and sixth-grade Sunday school classes had really taken ownership of the project.
This year, Fort Dodge churches raised at least $900 and 574 food items for the Souper Bowl of Caring. Nationwide, 5,096 groups generated about $6.6 million in cash and food items, according to the event website.
Contact Joe Sutter at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org