Church battles local hunger with food fight

Young people fought a messy food fight featuring ketchup, mustard, flour, mashed potatoes and water balloons Sunday evening at Christ Community Church. The three-round battle was aimed at raising awareness about hunger.

At about 7 p.m. this evening, hundreds of kids picked sides in a Lawrence field and prepared to fight.

They yelled taunts across the grass at one another. Rowdy high school boys ripped off their T-shirts in preparation for battle. And then it began.

The two sides rushed for containers filled with the first weapon: flour. After the field and its combatants were covered in a white powdery cloud, streams of red and yellow flew through the air as kids took aim with ketchup and mustard bottles.

Then they ran toward the containers filled with mashed potatoes and gravy. Using their hands as spoons, they poured the liquid potatoes and gravy over each other. To end the adult-sanctioned food fight, the youth, ages 12-19, launched more than 3,000 water balloons to clean off.

Fourteen-year-old Gretchen Boxberger had ketchup dripping down the side of her face and potatoes matted in her hair, but she said her messy clothes and skin were worth it for the fun she had.

“I’d do it again. It was fun trying to hit my friends with the food and chasing each other,” she said.

This had been a food fight that the kids had actually been encouraged to wage. The Third Battle Royal – a Food Fight Against Hunger, was designed to raise awareness of hunger in Lawrence.

Glenn Fletcher, pastor of student ministries at Christ Community Church, said more than 500 youth registered to participate in the food fight and at least 650 people attended the entire event on the church grounds, 1100 Kasold Drive. Other attractions included live music by Jonathan Thulin, hot dogs, popcorn, watermelon, a potato-carving contest and a slip-n-slide covered in chocolate syrup. The donated potatoes used in the food fight were inedible.

Fletcher estimated that the event helped the church collect about 2,600 pounds of food for Just Food, the Douglas County food bank, but he won’t know for sure until it’s officially weighed by the organization on Monday.

“One of the biggest needs we have in the community is people who can’t afford to eat,” Fletcher said.

The church had a goal to raise 5,000 pounds of food, and although it didn’t meet that number, Fletcher said the number of people who came to Third Battle Royal exceeded expectations and helped remind the community of the need to help those less fortunate in Douglas County.