Hiram – For thirty years, Hiram College has been donating money for the hungry in their revolutionary Bread and Soup program. Every Thursday in the spring semester, students gather in the Dix Dinning room of the Kennedy Center, to get a bowl of soup and a delicious slice of mouthwatering bread.
“What does it take to run the Bread and Soup program?” I asked the head caterer, as he greeted students coming in through the doorway.
“What does it take? What do you mean as far as that?”
[pulledquote]Today the college donates the money they raise to local organizations such as the Hiram Farm Living and Learning Community, the Salvation Army’s Northeast Portage Food Shelf and the Crestwood Coalition for Community Care[/pulledquote]“I mean, how long does it take to prepare the food? How long does it take to set everything up?”
“It takes a few hours,” he said matter-of-factly. “We prep the soup the day before, then we haul everything over here and heat it up.”
“How many students usually come?” I asked him.
“It ranges anywhere from 150 to 300 students.”
Jason Bricker-Thompson, director of the Office of Civic Engagement, runs the Bread and Soup program at the college. Bricker-Thompson has been running the Bread and Soup program for six years, but it was actually the brain child of the the late college chaplain Rev. Thomas Niccolls.
Thirty years ago, Niccolls had an idea to raise money for Oxfam — an international confederation of 15 organizations working in 98 countries worldwide to find lasting solutions to poverty — by providing students with a cheap meal. Because the cost to make the meal was less then what students paid at the dining hall, students could use their meal cards to pay for the bread and soup, with one dollar going to Oxfam.
The popularity of the program has been maintained throughout the thirty years. “I think it’s been pretty consistent,” said Bricker-Thompson, “at the beginning of the year it’s always really full, especially when there’s a lot of snow.”
“What is the best thing about this bread and soup program?” I inquired.
“I think two things, one is that it raises money for a cause, and another is that for a lot of folks it kinda acts as a community time. A lot of people come and get to hang out. It’s really cool.”
“How much money do you think Bread and Soup has raised over the past thirty years?”
“It’s hard to say,” he said, “but I think we generally raise about, two to three thousand dollars a year, so that equates to roughly sixty to ninety thousand dollars.”
Today the college donates the money they raise to local organizations such as the Hiram Farm Living and Learning Community, the Salvation Army’s Northeast Portage Food Shelf and the Crestwood Coalition for Community Care. The existence of such a program allows these organizations to get some extra help in feeding the local hungry population.
If you would like to attend the Bread and Soup dinner, the cost is $5 for adults and $2.50 for 12 and under. $1 per person will be donated to charity. There are different soups served each Thursday from 5-7 pm in the Dix Dining Hall, and there is always a basket of delicious, addicting bread.
Other colleges, schools, and churches, should also consider hosting such a program. Not only does it raise money for a cause, it gathers the community in the spirit of warmth and giving.