The Carolina Panthers may have lost Sunday to the Denver Broncos, but Charlotte took home the bacon (and beans) thanks to a wager over whether Denver or Charlotte could collect the most food for charity by the end of Super Bowl 50.
Final score: Carolinas 636,891 food items, Denver 360,664.
In addition, 177,000 pounds of potatoes were donated for the cause, most through the Society of St. Andrew’s North Carolina Gleaning Network.
Much of the food will benefit Loaves & Fishes food pantries.
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The local food drive – coordinated by the United Methodist Church – coincided with the city’s annual Scouting for Food drive, which also benefits Loaves & Fishes. As a result, scout units associated with Methodist churches were allowed to count their food collections toward the Super Bowl contest.
It was a stinging first loss for Denver, which made a similar bet with Seattle in 2014, when those two cities faced each other in the Super Bowl. Denver won that year, collecting 103,000 cans of food to Seattle’s 53,000.
Nathan Arledge, minister of missions at Charlotte’s Myers Park United Methodist, was co-coordinator of the competition, which encompassed donations from 354 churches, organizations and businesses in North Carolina.
Arledge said he gave Denver the bad news via a Facebook posting. “And I was OK with that,” he said, laughing. “One really cool fact is that between our state and Denver, we raised more than 1 million food items. We knew we’d win, but to blow them out of the water like this was even better.”
Loaves & Fishes says the competition came at a time when the agency feared having Scouting for Food the same weekend as the Super Bowl would be disastrous for badly needed publicity.
However, it appears Denver’s wager with Charlotte had the reverse effect, with early estimates showing Scouting for Food collected about 300,000 pounds of donations. The scout campaign continues through Sunday, via food barrels in lobbies of Harris Teeter stores, said Beverly Howard of Loaves & Fishes. Last year, Scouting for Food collected about 268,000 pounds of food, she said.
“What a wonderful way for this community to share some of their Panthers fever, by helping other people,” said Howard.