Souper Bowl of Caring kicks off at Reliant Stadium

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The second annual Houston Souper Bowl of Caring Food Drive kicked off at Reliant Stadium on Thursday, Jan. 10. In 2007, the campaign collected more than 1.6 million pounds of non-perishable food, making it the largest food drive in the history of Texas.

That 2007 campaign was organized in only 10 weeks, and sponsors and participants hope to exceed two million pounds of donated food this year. The 2008 drive will end on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3.

In 1990, the first Souper Bowl of Caring saw participation from 22 churches in South Carolina.

Today, founder and executive director the Rev. Dr. Brad Smith said the Souper Bowl of Caring is supported by over 14,500 congregations, schools and food retailers, with the aim of transforming Super Bowl weekend into the nation's largest youth-led weekend of giving and serving.

Grocery shoppers at all Houston H-E-B, Kroger and Randall's stores can purchase pre-packaged bags for five dollars that will go help feed Houston's hungry. The Houston Chronicle and several radio and television stations also are participating.

{QUOTE}Donated food is distributed throughout the city by the End Hunger Campaign and the Houston Food Bank.

"Three food retailers, a newspaper, four television stations, radio stations, and all of them want your attention, your support, your business. They compete," Smith said at the kickoff event. "But by pulling all those letters together, they are forming an army that can mobilize the people of this great area to each give a little to help those that have less."

Representatives from the grocery stores said that 33,000 Gulf Coast residents are hungry on any given day, a fact which was enough to convince them to put their competition aside to fight the cause of hunger.

Scott McClelland, H-E-B President, Houston Division, emphasized that a small individual donation from can make a significant impact.

"For five dollars, you can make a difference one person at a time," McClelland said. "Mother Teresa said in a quote, 'If you can't feed 100 people, then try to feed just one.'

"If half of the people who shop at H-E-B each week were to buy one of these bags, we would raise 3.75 million pounds of food. That's just H-E-B alone. You think of the power of what we could do if half the people who shop at Randall's and half the people who shop at Kroger in addition to H-E-B buy one of these. We could make a much bigger dent in the problem of hunger across our city."

Nicole Streeter, the Texans' director of community development and executive director of the Houston Texans Foundation, welcomed those assembled in the Budweiser Plaza at Reliant Stadium.

"On behalf of Mr. and Mrs. McNair and the Houston Texans family, we are delighted to host the second annual Souper Bowl of Caring here at the Reliant Stadium," Streeter said. "This grassroots movement of caring for our community members in need is a natural fit for the Houston Texans. Why? Because Texans care.

"We encourage all Houston residents, and especially our loyal Houston Texans fans … to go out and purchase non-perishable food items at the participating grocers and then give at that store, your place of worship or your local school (and) to support our youth in making this the largest most successful food drive to end the pain of hunger here in Houston."

For more information on the Souper Bowl of Caring, go to www.souperbowl.org/Houston.

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