‘Souper Bowl’ benefits VMC

Susan EspirituFountain City

Super Bowl Sunday is a favorite day for many football fans, but for the congregation at Fountain City Presbyterian, it’s historically a day to come together for the Souper Bowl after church services for a luncheon prepared by the FCPC youth.

The nonprofit group, Society of St. Andrew, encourages people across the country to host Souper Bowl events to address hunger by raising funds for food and the generous donations collected at meals like this one have enabled FCPC’s youth group to feed hungry neighbors for 35 years.

With the help of FCPC staff, Monty Walton, who taught Sunday School classes to FCPC youth, started this mission meal ministry in 1989 in order to give the youth opportunities to see blessings that are delivered with a warm meal. They began when VMC operated a soup kitchen on Jackson Avenue where volunteers could prepare meals for people who were struggling to get enough food.

Walton served Knoxville as a lawyer for several years, until the call to ministry became so strong that he changed occupations and now serves as a Methodist minister.

When Walton gave up the leadership responsibility for the mission meal, Tom McDonough stepped into that role.

When VMC built a new facility and moved its operations to the current location on Broadway, FCPC Youth followed them to that site. At the request of VMC, the group is currently filling a vacant Sunday meal slot at Minvilla Manor, apartments leased to formerly homeless people.

A few years ago, FCPC youth were recognized for being the longest serving volunteer group at VMC.

McDonough says, “I enjoy seeing the youth offer  heaping spoonsful of food with big smiles. The returned smiles from hungry folks filled with gratitude are also special.”

FCPC member Dan Rhea with his tray of food is being served a drink by youth Emma Nolen and Charlie Ramey while youth leader Carolyn Gahan keeps watch on refills

Tiegan Nutter and Laurismar Wrinkle, two of the youth volunteers, explained how important the mission of serving Minvilla Manor is. “The people there have worked hard to be there to have the opportunity to get a job and have food. They have been homeless. We are raising money for the youth group to do more for Volunteer Ministry Center.”

Charlie Ramey said it is fun to make and serve the food and drinks to the congregation on Souper Bowl Sunday.

Emma Nolen said preparing the church meal was a fundraiser for a ministry that is very important to the youth team.

FCPC Youth have been serving VMC clients so long that current youth preparing the meal are learning practices established by their parents, aunts and uncles.

Jack Thomas, who now co-leads FCPC’s youth group with Carolyn Gahan, learned the ropes for the meal as a member of the group over a decade ago. They can be found in the FCPC kitchen on Mission Meal Sunday with Tom and Tere McDonough and up to 10 or more youth group members.

Charlie Ramey has learned to use glove-covered hands to mix noodles, ground beef, cheese, tomato sauce and spices in large pans, using techniques like those used by his Uncle Jordan and mom, Casey, when they were in the youth group many years ago.

The meal consists of pasta, bread, green beans and banana pudding. People who receive the meal show great appreciation. They love the pasta but the banana pudding gets the best reviews with many people commenting that it is just like the banana pudding Momma made.

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