Church PR nightmare: Mashed potatoes should have gone to homeless, not for your 'food fight'

Uh-oh.  Sometimes you can’t win.

Like when a church did a fall kick-off for their student ministries.

Fun stuff!  A couple of the attractions for the youth

1.  A banana split slip n’ slide

2. A food fight with flour bombs, instant mashed potatoes, spaghetti noodles and eggs.

Except for one thing.

People could’ve eaten that food.


Here’s the apology letter printed in the local paper:

To the editor:

Sunday evening, Aug. 25 started our fall kickoff for our students in grades 6-12 at Kish Valley Grace Brethren Church. There was giant Jenga, cornhole, kickball, banana split slip n’ slide and a food fight with flour bombs, instant mashed potatoes, spaghetti noodles and eggs. The activities were a tool to bring 50-plus students from our community and their parents to our church and allow us to connect with and possibly share our faith.

There was some concern in the Open Line that we were being wasteful and setting up bad habits for our students and depriving food banks from food. The food that was used was either donated, from Ollie’s or expired and the total amount spent was close to $23. Our church is always willing to help those in need. Also, we had a chance to go to “Hands of Grace” this summer with some students to expose them to this wonderful ministry and allow them to serve those in the community. We are planning to go back soon.

We apologize for causing confusion about our activity and we want to continue to encourage and volunteer at the many food banks and ministries in our county. If there are any further questions please feel free to call us at 667- 2500 or visit us online at

So… what do you think?  Stupid idea, or great fun?



  • Leonard Lee September 24, 2013 Reply

    Great fun!!!

  • Darcy Knight September 24, 2013 Reply

    Stupid idea. There were other things that could have been done, without looking like they were wasting food.

  • Joel Brantner September 24, 2013 Reply

    There’s a greater poverty than hunger that is at stake. How many lives were changed or how many students heard/will hear the Gospel through this event?

  • David September 24, 2013 Reply

    Good fun. In retrospect a bit more nuanced. But, turn the bad press/impressions around and do something good; make a statement/apology and follow through. Everyone wins.

  • Rick September 24, 2013 Reply

    Good fun. Criticism from ignorance makes me think of Judas’ comment about how that perfume should have been sold and money given to the poor. He was not honored for that remark, and those who claim to be concerned for the poor should be careful they not follow in his footsteps.

    • Dave Nelson September 25, 2013 Reply


  • Trapper September 24, 2013 Reply

    Instant mashed potatoes are considered food?

    I mean, I eat ’em on occasion, too, buuuut………..

    • Trapper September 24, 2013 Reply

      It’s occurred to me I should probably be at least somewhat serious….

      From closely following the goings-on in one or two particularly post-Christian countries, what I’ve noticed is that The Church is simply *assumed* to be a justice and service organization (a spiritual NGO, if you will), and being in those camps and/or having those programs is considered the price of admission to the minds and hearts of those who might possibly ever entertain what you have to say about sin and salvation and whatever else.

      I hope we’re not there, but, given that we in America still have almost 20 years on the “collectivist” side of the “collectivist / individualist” pendulum to go (possibly still almost 10 years ’til the peak!), I fear that it won’t be long until we are.

      In collectivist eras, people usually obtain their identities in terms of what they mean to the whole of a/the group, not who they are as individuals; the results often include ugly “holier than thou” attitudes and actions, but those generally have to do with things that get the approval of the group, not God….in other words, peer pressure and guilt over how individuals’ actions affect the group….the easiest current example to spot is the “food police,” and you can take that to mean either what’s happening in the government health care arguments and mandates or the above “wasted it” arguments.

      Oddly and unfortunately, certain religious groups and their leaders use these “collectivist” eras to push down an emphasis on loyalty and accountability to “the body” and their leadership as opposed to devotion and accountability to God….but then call what they, themselves, are intentionally doing for their own beliefs and power a “movement of God,” of course…one of the many current examples that is easy to spot is people who refuse to use — and even get angry at the use of — worship songs that use the first-person singular pronoun “I” and not the second-person pronoun “we.”

      By the way, I believe history shows these “collectivist” eras always wind up ugly and that all the truly ugly times in both world and church history have been “collectivist” eras…..but there are certainly far better historians than I…….

  • Joel September 24, 2013 Reply

    Awesome idea. I just googled flour bomb and now have our main event for our next Jr. High game night.

  • Dave Nelson September 25, 2013 Reply

    This church owes nobody an apology. As a matter of fact, when churches express any kind of regret over something so trivial… it is unintentionally communicating to critics and complainers… “We value your opinion so much that we will walk on pins and needles around you and let you speak into how we do ministry. We’ll even apologize over having fun and go to great lengths to explain how much money was actually spent.”

    Fact: Every one who expressed frustration with this church’s event has wasted massive amounts of food, products and time in the last month. We all do.

    The standard response to every critic needs to be, “It sounds like you’re really concerned about this… how much food, time and energy have you personally given to food pantries in the last decade??????”

    Whiners will always whine. They will never be happy. Nothing will ever be good enough.

    Rant over.

  • Me September 25, 2013 Reply

    I am going to go out on a limb and question whether or not flour bombs and mashed potatoes is a good way to get people, especially young people, to understand they need to “come and die.”

    How stupid our churches must look to people who are actually going to prison and dying for their faith, to those who risk their lives simply by showing up to worship as a body on Sunday morning never knowing if the guest that just walked in might have a bomb strapped to his stomach. And I mean a real bomb, not a flour bomb.

  • kidminleader September 25, 2013 Reply

    Good Fun! I serve at a statewide food bank and can assure you there is a HUGE amount of food that goes in trash because of due dates. Let it be used for another purpose and if it draws today’s youth in then it is a good purpose.

  • David Sheffield September 27, 2013 Reply

    Good fun and criticism handled very well.

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