The Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots will compete against each other in Super Bowl 2018.

I’m not among the privileged fans going to the Eagles and Patriots play at U.S. Bank Stadium, in Minneapolis, MN, but hey, I’m not stressed. I’ll be sitting warm and cozy in front of a large flat screen TV with a bowl of wings and sweet potato fries.

There are plenty of family-oriented events happening around Super Bowl weekend, but the granddaddy of them all is “Taste of the NFL Party With A Purpose,” a charity event that brings NFL teams’ chefs together to feed about 4,000 football fans. The first Taste of the NFL was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

A purpose to raise awareness for hunger-relief

Taste of the NFL raises awareness and funds for hunger-relief organizations. Chefs at the event get together with the NFL’s greatest players to raise money in support of food banks throughout the United States, including Feeding America. Funds are also raised through online donations during Kick Hunger Challenge September to December, and through locally hosted Taste of the NFL events. Thus far, the hunger fundraiser brought in $25 million.

The biggest game in the NFL will be played on February 4, but I feel good knowing that chefs, players, former players and hundreds of volunteers will be doing something for a good cause—helping to kick hunger.

In the U.S., about 41 million people struggle with hunger, including 13 million children. Many families also struggle with limited or uncertain access to enough food to support a healthy life, and receive assistance from food banks.

An opportunity for students to get training

Taste of the NFL does more than raise funds for hunger-relief organizations, but it allows high school students to receive culinary experience. This year, eighty-three Minnesota volunteer high school students and their teachers were invited to participate in the event.

The students invited to participate are part of ProStart®, a two-year high school career and technical education program developed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. ProStart has programs in all 50 states and provides a curriculum that includes all facets of culinary arts and restaurant management.

Taste of the NFL started in 1992 and was birthed from an idea by Wayne Kostroski. The concept was that each NFL city would pair a chef to benefit local food banks. By volunteering, one hundred percent of the proceeds would go to charity. The first charity event, held in Minnesota, was only to be a one-time event, but Kostroski, a local restaurateur, received positive feedback and was encouraged to take the event on the road.

Fans with real heart

Who will win this year’s Super Bowl?

The New England Patriots have won five Super Bowl titles. This year will be the Philadelphia Eagles’ third attempt at a championship. No matter which team team loses, fans will return the next season and pack their hometown stadium because they’ve loyal to their team.

But, my heart goes out to the city of Cleveland. The Cleveland Browns didn’t even make it to the playoffs. The Browns’ ended their 2017 season with a disappointing record of 0 – 16. Yet, fans knew they still could make their city glitter even without confetti falling down on their faces and the Lombardi Trophy. How? Brown’s fans threw a parade and donated $17,000 to the local food bank.

Now that’s real devotion. Real spirit. Real heart.

Aeneas Hawkins is a bright high school student with prospects of attending college on an athletic scholarship.

Aeneas received scholarship offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, and Ohio State, and many others.

His decision to pick the best overall school should be simple. But it’s not. That’s because Aeneas was unfortunate enough to be raised in a football family.

His father, Artrell Hawkins, would proudly like him to go to his alma mater, the University of Cincinnati.  Artrell Hawkins played in the NFL career with the Bengals, Panthers, and Patriots.

His uncle, Andrew Hawkins, wants him to go to his alma mater, the University of Toledo. Andrew Hawkins played six seasons in the NFL and the Canadian Football League.

Another uncle, Wayne Jones, doesn’t want him to agree to any other school than the University of Pittsburgh. While his other uncle, Wallace Gilberry, is rooting for him to go to Alabama.

Cincinnati, Toledo, Pittsburgh and Alabama are great schools. But there’s also Penn State, Ohio State, Clemson, and Notre Dame.  Aeneas is caught between wanting to please his family, and wanting to follow his heart.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) Gary Owen is with him to help put his mind at ease.


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