Irving

Souper Bowl of Caring Kicks Off Thursday in North Texas

Starting now until Feb. 2, you can donate or buy pre-packaged meals at your local grocery store to help feed hungry families in North Texas

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NBC 5 and Telemundo 39 are joining the fight against hunger.

Souper Bowl of Caring is one of the largest food drives benefiting the North Texas Food Bank and Tarrant Area Food Bank.

The food drive runs between now and February 2, using the energy from the Super Bowl to encourage people to donate money and help local food banks continue to feed families, even after the holidays. This year’s goal is to generate $2.2 million in food and funds.

"The idea of Souper Bowl of Caring is a really simple one: What if everybody who watched the big game gave $1 or one can of food to people in need in their neighborhood," said Alison Reese, executive director of Souper Bowl of Caring. "We love our game but we love our neighbors especially in Texas."

On Thursday, Souper Bowl of Caring chose Nimitz High School in Irving as this year's location to hold the official kick-off of the drive. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and Rowdy helped keep the football spirit alive, as students began collecting food and spreading the word about the drive.

The event is helping raise awareness to the hunger issues faced by the school district, which is aiming to have a food pantry in every school across the city.

"Food insecurity has been a big issue, not only in our district but around the area. Because of that, the district is actually taking on an initiative to provide free lunch and breakfast for students throughout the week for elementary and junior high students but then during the weekends and on holidays, they have that same resource to food," said Sarah Jeter, a project manager for the Irving Schools Foundation, which operates the Food for Thought program. "That's where the Irving Schools Foundation steps in and provides food bags weekly. We pack twice a week, so every Friday the kids go home with bags."

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And right now, they're packing 1,200 bags a week for kids across the district.

However, the need can be felt anywhere and everywhere across the area. Just the North Texas Food Bank alone serves 800,000 people in a 13 county area. After the holidays, they say donations really slow down and they don't want people to forget that hunger lasts year-round.

Starting now until Feb. 2, you can donate or buy pre-packaged meals at your local grocery store to help feed hungry families in North Texas.

"One of the wonderful things about the holidays is that people really think about those who are hungry. but the truth is that people are hungry 365 days a year, so we need to continue to make sure that we get donations and provide more meals for those people that need it. and more people to come in and volunteer after the holidays, and to make sure that they're continuing to advocate for those people that are hungry and may not know if they're having dinner tonight or not," said Trisha Cunningham, CEO of North Texas Food Bank.

So it's important for these food banks to provide meals for their most vulnerable clients.

“Hunger is a symptom of something bigger. And we see senior citizens having to make trade-offs -- 'Do I buy my medicine this month or do I eat?' We see families, working families. But something that’s very different today I think most of the people that we serve work. sometimes two or three jobs and they are struggling to be able to put meals on the table for their families."

Here's how you can be a part of Souper Bowl of Caring: Starting now until Feb. 2, all you have to do is make a donation or buy a pre-packaged food bag at any Kroger, Albertsons, Tom Thumb or Market Street.

This is the 30th year for the event, which has raised $153 million since its inception in 1990. For more information or to start your own food drive, visit www.souperbowl.org/dfw.

Be sure to stay tuned for a special fighting hunger series that will air all next week on NBC 5 at 4 p.m. and on Telemundo 39 4:30 p.m.

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