Boxes of macaroni and cheese are piling up at Southside Baptist Church in Lincolnton.
Collecting these boxes is one way Southside is helping to fight hunger in its community. The church is taking part in Souper Bowl of Caring (souperbowl.org), an effort coinciding with Super Bowl Sunday Feb. 5. On the day the New York Giants face the New England Patriots, people across the United States will be participating in efforts to help provide supplies and money for hunger-related ministries.
“We found we get better results if we have them bring a certain thing,” said Ruth Gibson, who leads her church’s efforts for the Souper Bowl of Caring as well as for a local ministry to Lincoln County residents.
The purpose is to donate to a local food bank or shelter in the area.
The church will collect macaroni through Super Bowl Sunday. Gibson said her church has made this local ministry part of its budget year-round, too. The church staggers its giving. Some is set aside for the Souper Bowl of Caring. In 2011, the church gave toward a golf tournament fund raiser for the ministry and then again at Christmastime.
Last year more than 260,000 youth across the nation participated in Souper Bowl of Caring, collecting more than $9.5 million in dollars and food for local hunger-relief charities.
This year’s goal is to empower 275,000 young people to collect $11 million for charities in their communities.
The money and items are donated directly to a local ministry. Souper Bowl of Caring does not receive gifts but instead compiles a report of what people are doing and how much has been given.
On Feb. 4 Charlotte will host a city-wide service blitz.
One of the ways North Carolina Baptists can support Souper Bowl of Caring and give to hunger-related ministries is to donate to the North Carolina Hunger Fund.
“This year we’ll distribute about $200,000 to ministries through the offering (in October) and designated hunger gifts,” said John Butler, executive group leader in business services at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
The Convention, which does not have a ministry directly addressing hunger needs, acts as a “conduit for the generosity of others,” said Butler.
The state received a little more than $400,000 in 2011; $200,000 ended up on the foreign mission field, distributed through Baptist Global Response. The North American Mission Board also received some and reallocates part back to ministries in North Carolina. Butler estimates $200,000 is spent in North Carolina.
With one gift, N.C. Baptists can address hunger on a local, state and international level.
Churches and associations can apply for grants (up to $3,000) to help with hunger-related ministries – anything from food pantries, soup kitchens, food banks, Meals on Wheels, community gardens, backpack buddy programs and shelters.
Butler said churches have even been started through these food ministries.
Each year, N.C. Baptists help fund 80-100 ministries. Some are ongoing outreach efforts or one-time events like holiday meals. Some of the efforts help community organizations, but churches and associations that receive money have to be directly involved in those efforts.
Each recipient must turn in a quarterly report to the Convention sharing the story of the number of decisions for Christ and other related results.
“These are all designated funds,” Butler stressed, adding that none of the grant money comes from Cooperative Program contributions.
With the economy struggling, the amount of donations has declined. The BSC has information to help churches promote the offering as well as applications for funds. Churches or associations are encouraged to plan ahead and apply for a grant next year.
The N.C. Hunger Fund has also made strides in going paperless. Ministries are able to fill out reports and submit them online. This allows the Convention to compile the information faster and easier for the North American Mission Board.
To request materials about the North Carolina Hunger Fund, contact Emily Compton at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5536, or [email protected].