Annual ‘Souper Bowl’ helps East Idaho students feed thousands

IDAHO FALLS — Tom Brady’s Patriots may have won the Super Bowl, but Skyline High School students just won the “Souper Bowl.”

For the 12th straight year, Skyline and Idaho Falls high schools competed in an annual food drive that stocks local charities with thousands of dollars and hundreds of thousands of meals. Final tallies put Skyline at 100,297 items. Idaho Falls came in at 44,400.

On Tuesday, Skyline students formed a line out of the school’s main entryway to help load tons of boxed cans and bagged potatoes into a moving truck en route to food pantries.

“It’s a pretty amazing thing to watch,” said Skyline government teacher and event organizer Heidi Guza. “Some of the kids may not know it, but they really do make a huge impact.”
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Guza’s class coordinates the event at Skyline each year by breaking students up into four committees that blitz the city for donations. The kids then spend weeks collecting, boxing and bagging food donations from residents and local businesses from across Idaho Falls.

Revenue generated via the event also goes a long way in helping food pantries purchase items that often go un-donated, such as chicken and fresh fruits.

The Community Food Basket, East Idaho’s largest food pantry, received a $43,000 check from the school district last year. Coupled with food donations, the proceeds provided some 163,000 meals in all — about one third of all food served up annually at the pantry.

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This year, students raised about $30,000 in cash.

“We’ve got some wonderful students here,” said Community Food Basket executive director Bud Langerak. “The event is great because it’s also helping our kids become leaders.”

Freshman Katie Meldrum said the best part is volunteering at the pantries after the food goes out.

“It’s an eye-opener,” she said. “Sometimes you even see someone there eating but had no idea that they were in need at all.”

The victory brings bragging rights to students at Skyline High School for the rest of the year, Guza said — and a chance to pelt Idaho Falls’ head cheerleader with a pie at an upcoming basketball game.

But the real winners are those who need the food the most, she added. “This really does help a lot of people in need.”