Drew Pearson still loves to suit up in his Cowboys jersey and flash his Super Bowl ring.
But more than 30 years after he retired, Pearson is now using his skills to help tackle hunger for the Souper Bowl of Caring Food Drive.
He helped kick off the food drive Tuesday morning at New Tech High @ Coppell, where last year students donated more food than any school in North Texas.
Pearson and other community leaders are encouraging people to visit Albertsons, Kroger, Market Street and Tom Thumb grocery stores and buy the pre-packaged bags of food that will be donated to local hunger relief agencies. Customers can also donate cash at the register.
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The Souper Bowl of Caring runs through Feb. 7, the day of Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, Calif., in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Pearson credits the grocery stores for working together on this effort.
“That’s what it takes, everybody working together,” said Pearson, a Cowboys receiver in the 1970s and ’80s who is in the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor. “Putting aside your competitive differences for the good of the cause. And the cause here is feeding the hungry.”
Pearson wasn’t the only person representing the Cowboys. Their mascot, Rowdy, and cheerleaders were on hand at the event. New Tech High was chosen as the launch pad for the Souper Bowl because the school of less than 400 students donated 11,000 food items in 2015.
“For you people to step up and do what you do and support the North Texas Food Bank and the Tarrant Area Food Bank is just amazing,” Pearson said.
Though none of the high school students were alive when he played, Pearson told them to “get on those computers and Google me and you’ll find out all the things I’ve done.”
For the third year in a row, New Tech seniors Skylar Guignon and Kim Tran are leading the charge at the school as the president and vice president, respectively, of the Community Service Club.
“We just spread the word a lot,” Tran said. “It’s embedded into our school culture. Also, the great competition helps a lot.”
The fight against hunger is an invisible fight, a struggle that goes on behind closed doors, said Bo Soderbergh, executive director of the Tarrant Area Food Bank, which provides assistance to social service agencies across the region.
“One in four children in Texas lives in a home where there is food insecurity,” Soderbergh said. “They may not always know where their next meal is coming from.”
While the headlines for North Texas show prosperity and fast growth, the problem of hunger continues.
“One of the reasons, of course, is that we as a community keep growing and not everyone who moves here can find well-paying jobs,” Soderbergh said. “The fight won’t end. It will continue with you. We will someday be able to say we live in a community where no one has to go hungry.”
Even a small contribution really helps.
“For every one dollar, the food banks can provide three meals,” said Carol Roberts, community relations and partnership marketing manager for Albertsons.
Pearson got involved in the Souper Bowl of Caring when North Texas hosted Super Bowl XLV in 2011.
“Being part of that gave me a clear view of the need,” Pearson said. “We’re going to fight and beat this hunger problem we have in North Texas.”
The Souper Bowl of Caring
▪ A benefit for local hunger relief agencies supported by the Tarrant Area Food Bank and North Texas Food Bank runs through Feb. 7, the day of Super Bowl 50 in San Fransico.
▪ Participating grocery stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area include Albertsons, Kroger, Market Street and Tom Thumb
▪ Customers can purchase pre-packed bags filled with nonperishable food items or make a cash donation that will benefit the Tarrant Area Food Bank and North Texas Food Bank.
▪ Besides the grocery stores, North Texas schools, churches and social service organizations are conducting food drives.
▪ Goal is to raise $1.8 million in food items and money for local hunger relief agencies.
▪ Volunteer opportunities are available at participating Albertsons, Kroger and Market Street stores. Groups can register at souperbowl.org.