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Super Bowl events raising money to help combat hunger

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PHOENIX – The impact of Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale will be viewed heavily through an economic lens, and while many will look at the scoreboard or tax dollars for results Wayne Kostroski will be measuring the outcome by the number of needy people he feeds.

As founder of Taste of the NFL, a nonprofit group that combats hunger, the Twin Cities restaurateur will be hosting his 24th annual Party with a Purpose on the eve of the Super Bowl. The event at WestWorld of Scottsdale will raise money for local and national food banks.

“It’s the only party at the Super Bowl, and it’s the only party associated with the NFL that exists only for one thing, and that is to give all the money away,” Kostroski said during a news conference Friday.

The food and wine-tasting event features 35 chefs from around the country, with at least one representing every NFL market, and a current player or alumnus of every NFL team. Proceeds go directly toward fighting hunger, and $22 million has been raised since the inaugural event in 1992.

Gathered at St. Mary’s Food Bank, Kostroski, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, St. Mary’s Food Bank President and CEO Beverly Damore and Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman David Rousseau detailed plans for the February fundraiser.

Paired with the Taste of the NFL’s national fundraiser, the Kick Hunger Challenge, money will be spread throughout communities of all 32 NFL teams, with the largest portion going toward St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix and the Vista del Camino Food Bank in Scottsdale.

The Kick Hunger Challenge places all 32 NFL fan bases against each other in a fundraising competition, with fans able to donate in the name of their favorite teams.

“We want to make sure that we not only enhance but grow that tradition (of giving) in Scottsdale,” Lane said. “I understand the Kick Hunger Challenge is a friendly competition, but I do want to see Arizona win that competition.”

Lane then took out his wallet and donated $100 to the Kick Hunger Challenge.

Damore called the events an opportunity to spread awareness about the problem of hunger.

“Very rarely does hunger get tied with something as glamorous as the Super Bowl and the NFL,” she said. “We had a press conference in our warehouse today. That doesn’t happen very often.”