Feeding the City One Bowl at a Time

Published: September 15, 2009 | Read Time: 3 minutes

How much is a bowl of soup and some day old bread worth? Though seemingly meager, when served with a side of charity and the backing of an entire community, a few rolls and a bowl of steaming soup do much more than suffice at Southern Utah University’s monthly Bread & Soup Nite. 

Although the all-you-can-eat soup that costs just $1 plus a donated can of food seems a bargain night out for students and city residents alike, the event nets much more than it dishes out, as its purpose is solely to collect food for the campus HOPE Pantry and the Iron County Care and Share. 

According to Pam Branin, coordinator of SUU’s Service and Learning Center, in eight total Bread & Soup Nites during the 2008-09 school year, attendees donated over 3500 non-perishable food items. This marked a banner year for Bread & Soup Nite, with new attendance records each month. Reflecting upon Monday night’s success and looking toward the center’s objectives for the Bread & Soup Nite program this year, Branin hopes and expects the program will continue to outdo itself month after month. 

“More importantly,” Branin emphasizes, “Bread & Soup Nite is impacting lives.” 

She explains, the University’s HOPE Pantry, a food pantry for cash-strapped students away from home, saw a 94-percent increase in use last year, serving more than 120 students each month who may have otherwise gone without. Beyond the University, several hundred pounds of food generated from last year’s Bread & Soup Nites were also donated to Cedar City’s food bank, the Iron County Care and Share. 

And according to April Phillips, who is the Iron County Care and Share’s food bank coordinator, that was no small feat. She explains that aside from several large organizations that deal primarily in food sales and distribution, “hundreds of pounds of food from any one fundraiser is quite a lot in terms of donated goods.” 

And though the program’s objectives of raising awareness about local food insecurity and collecting goods to help combat that problem remain constant, Branin and her two student coordinators who organize the monthly event have big plans in terms of how they accomplish this, including a soup cook-off, a “no talent show” and the always festive Holiday-themed Bread & Soup Nite in December which features several performance groups from around the community and a special visit from the world’s northernmost philanthropist and celebrity, Mr. Claus. 

With more than 400 attendees at Monday night’s kick-off and performances by local high school and university performers, it would seem the festivities are off to a good start. 

Of the program, Branin said, “Outside of sporting events, it seems there aren’t many events that encourage students, non-traditional students, families, faculty, staff and community members to all come together to learn and to serve. We strive to bring all those people together under a common interest with Bread & Soup Nite.” 

She continues, “Bread & Soup Nite is really a community event.” With thousands of food stuffs collected from an ever-increasing base of regular Bread & Soup Nite patrons from across the community, it would seem there is no better place to be on a Bread & Soup Nite than in the Ballroom of SUU’s Sharwan Smith Center. 

SUU’s Service and Learning Center will host its next Bread & Soup Nite next Monday, October 5, 2009. The monthly event is generally held on the first Monday of every month and is open to all within the community.

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