Ask people around San Antonio what the Peanut Butter Bowl is and chances are you’ll get a smile. Not because it’s some delectable dessert (although the name suggests otherwise) or a clear indicator of one not being a local, but rather the realization of the far-reaching positive impact communities can have when coming together for the common good.
In 2016, then-Johnson High School head football coach Ron Rittimann was approached by his friend Steve Teel, president of Very Bold Ministries, about using high school football as a platform to inspire community service.
Teel informed Rittimann of his connection to Snack Pak 4 Kids San Antonio, a local organization that helps feed over 2,500 children who don’t have a meal or adequate food on weekends. With the first game of the season fast approaching, Teel got together with Rittimann and Jeff Fleener, a former player of his and then-head coach of Brandeis High School, who Johnson High would open its season with.
The idea was simple: in conjunction with the game, both communities would be encouraged to collect and donate jars of peanut butter as they entered the stadium. According to Rittimann, more than 4,000 jars of peanut butter were collected between the two schools for Snack Pak 4 Kids at the first Peanut Butter Bowl, and they were only getting started.
Fast-forward five years and six more schools have joined the cause, as well as food banks in New Braunfels and Seguin, Texas, not to mention the nearly 30,000 jars of peanut butter that have been collected.
Last season alone, the eight schools collected a record-number of 14,128 jars of peanut butter, which, according to Snack Pak 4 Kids representatives, was enough peanut butter to get them through the entire year. However, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need is even greater this year as local schools are seeing a rise in the number of children that teachers identify as chronically hungry.
“Last year was a tremendous outcome, but we feel confident that across the eight communities that we can collect 20,000 jars this year,” Rittimann said, who now coaches at Alamo Heights High School. “Things are already off to a strong start this year with two games already played and two more remaining. Just at Alamo Heights, we collected more than 3,000 jars from our community and donations continue to roll in.”
Even if you’re not from the San Antonio area and can’t make your donation while reveling underneath the Friday Night Lights, monetary donations can be made online through the Peanut Butter Bowl website.
Experiencing this all from the beginning, Rittimann is grateful to the eight communities and countless others for helping grow the Peanut Butter Bowl into what it is today and believes that the best is yet to come.
“We plan to sustain this for a long time and incorporate more games in the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth area,” Rittimann said. “We’ve been deliberate in the way we’ve grown it to make sure it’s done the right way, but there’s a need across all Texas, so I hope one day every Texas high school has the opportunity to participate.”
Wherever the Peanut Butter Bowl takes Rittimann and communities across Texas, one message remains clear.
“We have a great opportunity to play high school football, which in our minds is the greatest experience and sport there is, but this is even bigger and better than that,” Rittimann said. “You’re helping somebody you don’t even know and improving their quality of life. If we could have more people buy into that philosophy and truly embody what it means to help your neighbor, imagine what our world could look like.”
To learn more about the Peanut Butter Bowl and how you can get involved, visit PeanutButterBowl.com.
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