How to Do Some Good with Your Super Bowl Party
Over a hundred million people are expected to watch this year’s Super Bowl. It’s one of the few remaining cultural touchstones we have that brings people together from all walks of life.
One of the best things about traditions like the Super Bowl is they provide people with a shared experience, whether it’s the game, the commercials, or the food, that gives them something to talk about with people they may not have anything else in common with.
We’ve been hosting a small Super Bowl party for years that includes a mix of football fans, commercial aficionados, kids, dogs, and a small group of Downton Abbey lovers who used to take over a TV at 8:00 pm – regardless of the score.
The reason, I think, people come year after year isn’t because of the game, it’s primarily for the chance to spend time together and a little bit to satiate that deep seeded fear we all have of missing out on whatever everyone else is talking about. There’s also the food, we tend to go a bit over the top with lots of BBQ, half-a-table full of desserts, good beer, and an interesting cocktail or two.
Some recent conversations with friends inspired me to add something new to this year’s party. When a friend said he wasn’t going to make it this year because it felt like the Super Bowl is too much of a celebration of the worst of us, it really struck a chord. I understand what he means, sometimes it feels like the NFL’s never-ending drive to dominate everything has made the Super Bowl the poster child for conspicuous consumption at it’s worst.
This year a thirty-second spot will go for around five-million dollars and tickets for the game are going for an average price of three-thousand dollars a ticket on the secondary market. That’s a lot of dough for a couple hours of entertainment and is something completely out of reach for most people, even as a once in a lifetime splurge.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy the game, I do, it just seems like there should be a way to channel a small bit of this time and energy into something that has a larger impact.
This is where a suggestion from another friend got me thinking. We’ve been chatting about getting involved in a new group that encourages people to host potlucks as a way to raise money for local community groups and she suggested we use our Super Bowl party as a test run. I thought it was a great idea and we decided to encourage people to bring a few nonperishable food items with them and put out a jar to collect money for our local food shelf.
If I know my friends, we’ll end up with three or four grocery bags full of food and a couple hundred dollars for the food shelf. It’s not earth-shattering, it’s not supposed to be.
The reason we’re choosing the Super Bowl is because it’s a time when we’re already together and so much of what brings people together around the game is focused on good food and drink.
So often it seems like all we do anymore is search for the silver bullet that’s going to make us rich, successful, thin, pretty, or happy, completely disregarding all of our previous experiences that tell us life doesn’t work that way.
So we’re not going to try and change the world overnight. Instead, we’re going to have a fun party, eat lots of good food, probably drink a little too much, and do something nice for other people.
Why We Fight Hunger
The thing about hunger is it’s the kind of problem that starts fresh each day because no matter how many people you feed today, everyone still needs to eat tomorrow. This means the only way to eliminate hunger is to make sure people have enough to eat, each and every day of their lives.
According to Feeding America, a network of food banks across the country, 42 million people will face hunger this year, that’s almost 1 in 8 people in America. Their research estimates the average cost of a meal for people facing food insecurity is $2.89.
This got me thinking about the power of numbers. Is our little contribution to the food shelf going to make a huge difference in the world? No it won’t, but the food and money we provide will help make sure some people have enough to eat for a few days and if a small percentage of the people watching the Super Bowl did the same, all of us together could have an enormous impact.
Think about it, around 110 million people watch the game in the U.S. each year. If a small number, say one percent gave $10 to their local food shelf that would be enough for over 3.5 million meals. It’s not something we can do at our little party, but it is something we can all do together.
Supporting our local food shelf was an easy choice, we already know it does good work and we hope if there is one thing everyone can agree on it’s that one should have to go hungry, ever.
So how do we make this happen? If you’re hosting a party, ask your guests to donate. If you’re watching the game at your favorite bar, ask them to create some space for donations and encourage people to give. This isn’t about solving hunger for all time, it’s about taking a small step in the right direction because that’s the only way things get better.
If you do decide to join us, share what you’re doing online by tagging Umami or using #SuperBowlEats.
You can find more information on hunger in America, including how to find your local food shelf and donate to the fight against hunger at Feeding America.
Mark is Umami's publisher