Soup’s On — a community connections program that has been running almost every Friday at St. Alban’s Anglican Church in Ashcroft since January 2009 — is looking for community businesses, organizations, and residents who are willing to volunteer their time to form or join a team and provide by-donation lunches for anyone who wants to drop by.
Martina Duncan has returned as the program’s coordinator, and says that they are down to two regular teams who prepare, cook, and serve the lunches, then clean up. The lunch runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and volunteers work from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with some prep work earlier in the week to make soup and desserts.
Duncan says that currently there are two teams: one from St. Alban’s, and one headed up by Maryann Simpson. “We had more groups, but they aged out. It’s not an every week commitment; even once a quarter would be helpful. When we have enough teams then once every six weeks is the aim.” Current volunteers are happy to teach new volunteers the ropes.
She adds that even if people can’t be part of a team and help out on the day, they can donate food or bake a dessert. “Just let me know, so we can plan it into the day.” Over the summer, residents often donate fruit and vegetables from their gardens, and over the winter other food donations are welcome.
Food is bought from local businesses, and the cost of the groceries comes out of the weekly donations. Each week’s menu features two or three soups — one of which is always vegetarian — as well as buns, veggies or fruit, dessert, and coffee, tea, and juice.
The soup and desserts are made ahead of time and can be done at the St. Alban’s kitchen, which features a dishwasher, so that dishes do not have to be washed and dried by hand.
Teams can come from a specific business or organization, or individuals can join an ad hoc team. “Right now we’re training people from the Ashcroft Terminal, and we hope to make a team of them,” says Duncan.
Teams cook for between 65 and 70 people a week. In addition to local residents, Duncan says people come from Clinton, Spences Bridge, the local Bands, and even Kamloops. She notes that Soup’s On is open to everyone, not just those in need. “It’s an opportunity for people to connect in our community.”
Duncan adds that volunteers enjoy being on the host team. “It’s a lot of fun to connect with people.”
She doesn’t know what will happen if they don’t get more help. “We can’t do it every week, and neither can the other team leader. We need more teams to step forward.”
Duncan notes, however, that a lot of people support Soup’s On with food and financial donations, and she would like to thank them, as well as the people who regularly donate their time to keep Soup’s On the valuable community program it is.
“A big thank you to Kathey Johnson for her capable scheduling and leading a team for Soup’s On for several years. And she is still helping us!
“We should also thank the people of Zion United, Sage Hills Evangelical, and Cache Creek Pentecostal Churches. They have been faithful supporters of Soup’s On, and while we don’t have specific teams from their faith communities anymore, we do have volunteers who come and help other teams on their own.
“David of Beans Roasted Rite donates decaf and two kinds of regular coffee, and Paulette grows extra veggies in her garden each year, specifically to donate to Soup’s On. Gerda faithfully brings in salads over the summer, and in the fall brings us (almost weekly) cucumber and beet salads and pumpkins for soup-making.
“Loraine, when requested, makes soups and shares them with whichever team is on for the week, and Rayla, Annie, Laura, and several others assist with desserts whenever they’re asked to help out.
“Corry makes fabulous soups and desserts and helps out as she is able whenever we’re short of hands for a Friday. Linda donated her over-abundance of delicious homemade grape juice this year, and it is a well-received gift.
“The United Steel Workers host a luncheon each summer and donates the entire meal for our guests: we are very thankful for that! And we’re looking for other corporations/businesses around our area that are interested in supporting this valuable program.
“I apologize if I’ve forgotten to thank anyone, and we gratefully use any donations we receive from community members.”
If you would like to donate to Soup’s On, or make or be part of a team, contact Duncan at (250) 453-2022.