Columbia, SC — Many people realize that this weekend’s Souper Bowl of Caring was born in Columbia. This youth-led effort’s vision to “Transform the time around the Super Bowl into the nation’s largest celebration of giving and serving” has blossomed into a successful movement that energizes both young and old nationwide.
But have you ever wondered how the funds impact our local community?
One major local beneficiary is the Soup Cellar at Washington Street United Methodist Church. This ecumenical cooperative ministry, housed in a basement beneath the church at the corner of Washington and Marion streets, ministers to the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of hungry people. We do this through the simple act of providing a hot meal to Columbia’s poor every weekday, 52 weeks a year.
The Soup Cellar first opened its doors on Oct. 15, 1979; 12 people were served lunch on our first day. As the local need grew (we currently make and serve lunch for 175-225 people daily; 52,105 lunches in 2012), no one church could afford this effort alone, and so a partnership was born. The venture now includes 16 churches.
This program has a long and successful track record of effectively feeding the hungry in downtown Columbia. It is a strong example of faith-based teamwork and cooperation.
The Soup Cellar is entirely volunteer-driven. The cooks prepare the meal between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. The servers work from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., when lunch is served. A typical meal is two sandwiches, fruit and/or soup, a sweet snack and a beverage.
The Soup Cellar obtains some food at minimal cost from Harvest Hope Food Bank through the USDA Commodities Program and the Donated Foods Program. Additional food and needed supplies are purchased or acquired through donations, including the Souper Bowl of Caring.
On behalf of the Soup Cellar, I would like to thank all those who generously give their time, funding and talent to assist us in achieving our goal. We can use anyone’s skills. Whether you can cook or serve or help out with a fresh coat of paint or a deep cleaning of our kitchen, put together signs and posters or do a bit of clerical work, we would love for you to join us.
Feeding the needy a meal in the basement of a downtown church may not be the most glamorous of avocations, but we hope you will choose to stay involved or become involved in our efforts. And we wish you all the best for Souper Bowl Sunday.
The Soup Cellar
Washington Street United Methodist Church