EAT MORE SOUP! is a social enterprise created by ALSO, a non-profit literacy organization serving adults and families in Ottawa for over 35 years.
A few years ago ALSO started Dinner on a Dime. This project focused on teaching ALSO students how to shop on a very tight budget, how to read a recipe, how to cook from scratch and what to do with leftovers. We partnered with several Ottawa area chefs and offered monthly cooking workshops. Dinner on a Dime was a huge success!
The following year ALSO students asked for more. They wanted a weekly cooking program. This sparked the idea for Souper Wednesday, an initiative which provides weekly opportunities for ALSO students to learn how to cook delicious vegetarian soups at a low cost. Each week we create a different vegetarian soup and a bread or muffin to go with it. We offer this as a lunch option to the staff, volunteers and program participants at Heartwood House. Last year we served an average of 30 people each week at $1.00 - $2.00 per serving. Folks make a small donation to cover the cost of making the soup. We have a “Pay It Forward” program so that no one goes without soup. Last year we provided 102 servings by paying it forward, and over 900 servings in total!
We began to get requests to take our soup home. ALSO students started wondering if we could turn this into a real business; if they could use this as a training opportunity to link to real employment; if we could reach out to more people. That was the beginning of EAT MORE SOUP!
For adults with disability issues, lower literacy skills and multiple barriers to education and learning, the employment picture is bleak - resulting in chronic unemployment, financial instability and isolation from the wider community.
EAT MORE SOUP! offers 12 week barrier-free employment training opportunities to 16 interns each year. We build in opportunities to 'give back' through the provision of BIG COOK Tuesday and Souper Wednesday; partnership programs with the Boys and Girls Club and Heartwood House.
The following are the unique aspects of EAT MORE SOUP! that make this project worth supporting:
- We focus on chronically unemployed adults ages 25-35.
- We build in opportunities to give back and receive thanks. It is exhausting and demoralizing to feel that you are always in need of someone’s help. We have seen marked changes in our students as a result of Souper Wednesday. They have become more hopeful, more joyful, more open, and more confident. This aspect of the project builds resiliency which positively impacts outcomes for all our soup maker interns.
- We provide barrier-free opportunities to build employment skills. This means that applicants put their name on a list. Interns are chosen for an interview based on the list, rather than a predetermined set of criteria. Each intern will have responsibilities and expectations they must meet to maintain their place in the program once they start. If they cannot maintain their commitment or performance and need to withdraw, they are welcome to put their name back on the list.
- We provide a real link to local employers upon successful completion of the internship.This means that each intern is guaranteed an interview with at least one of our employer partners.
- We build skills that directly affect quality of life at home for program participants. We aim to shift people’s relationship with food, instill the belief that we all deserve to eat food that tastes delicious and is good for our bodies and minds. We all deserve to enjoy a meal with family or friends every day.
Thank you to our supporters: