By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
IOWA CITY — Each year, as the National Football League championship approaches, students at Regina Catholic Education Center have a competition of their own.
Rather than kicking field goals and scoring touchdowns, students earn “SOUPer Bowl” points during Catholic Schools Week by bringing in money and food items to support a local food bank.
“One dollar equals one point; one food item equals one point. Each grade competes against each other for the most points,” said Katie Welter, who teaches junior theology and junior high pre-algebra and religion classes at Regina. For the past six years, she has assisted the junior class in organizing the food drive.
Welter, wife of Deacon Joe Welter, said she came up with the idea after reading about a pro football-themed food drive online. Because the pro football championship game usually occurs around Catholic Schools Week, she thought a SOUPer Bowl food drive would be a “great tradition” to start at Regina.
Catholic Schools Week, which generally occurs at the end of January and the beginning of February, comes at a crucial time for food banks, Welter said. “Usually a lot of people donate during the holidays, so January is a time when things slow down for donations … This service project supports our community as a whole and it is a great way for the students to get involved with what is happening around them.”
Students raised more than $1,000 and brought in about 650 canned items during the drive Jan. 31 through Feb. 4. The seventh-grade class reigned supreme this year, earning 460 points.
The school donated the money and canned items to CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank in Iowa City. These resources will help the food bank continue in its mission of providing immediate and non-judgmental support for individuals facing emotional, food or financial crises, said Nicole Kilmer, director of Marketing and Communications for CommUnity. “Our food bank staff has seen an increase in need in the last several months and we are grateful for all of the community’s participation in food drives. As our community continues to endure the effects of the pandemic and the economic hardships it created, there is a critical need to support our neighbors struggling with food insecurity.”
Junior Hailey Hein said she is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the service project. “The SOUPer bowl allows the Regina community to give back to the Iowa City community that so graciously supports us. Seeing all the donations really opens up my eyes to how much of an impact our small school community can have on others.”