Soup and Bread

Virtual Soup & Bread

Carmen Rance distributes meals to do from the back door of the food pantry at San Lucas United Methodist Church in Humboldt Park.

Carmen Rance distributes meals to go from the back door of the food pantry at San Lucas United Methodist Church in Humboldt Park.

Hello friends:

Today would have been the final night of Soup & Bread 2020. We would have celebrated at the Hideout with soup from brilliant cooks like Won Kim, from Kimski; Kim Leali and Heather Medina from One Off Hospitality; Soup & Bread stalwart Allison Scott, and so many others. We would have raised glasses together and given thanks in a crowded room. We would have had pie.

Obviously that’s not happening.

But I remain confident that this kind of collective moment will come roaring back in the months to come; when this is all over, I told a friend, I want to stage the best Soup & Bread ever, even if everyone has to sit six feet apart. In the meantime, I trust that you are all safe and sound and housed, and that you are able to share meals with people you love, even if you have to raise your bowls of soup to each other over Zoom.

In the meantime, I wanted to let you know that in one week since we shut down Soup & Bread on March 12, you and yours donated an additional $2742 to S&B via our PayPal account. A sum that, quite honestly, makes me do a double take. I have not had time to write individual thank you notes, so for now please just know that we are very, very grateful. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Since then, we have disbursed donations of $700 to almost all of our Soup & Bread partners (like everything, this is not happening in the most efficient manner). They, in turn, also send their deepest gratitude. Since the coronavirus crisis hit, soup kitchens and food pantries have seen need rising at frightening rates, and that need will only spike further as rent comes due today. (I wrote a bit about this, and the response of some Chicago food pantries to the crisis, for South Side Weekly last week.) Meanwhile, the volunteers are becoming scarce. I want to urge you, please, to consider continue to give to those whose access to healthy food was unstable even before March.

Produce from Common Pantry to be distributed at Middlebrow Bungalow, March 17.

Produce from Common Pantry to be distributed at Middlebrow Bungalow, March 17.

Some of the pantries Soup & Bread has worked with over the past years include Common Pantry, in North Center, whose executive director Margaret O’Connor has been working tirelessly to make sure her client base is cared for, and also to get food out to other parts of Chicago in need. Two weeks ago she contacted me to see if I could help her take a load of produce off her hands; within a day, we had arranged to get it out to suddenly unemployed bar and restaurant workers, with help from the good people at Middlebrow Bungalow. Another portion of it went to most excellent Hideout bartender Jessica Romanowski, for her Care Kitchen Chicago project; read about it here! And the excellent Ravenswood Community Services also remains open, serving to-go meals and groceries every Tuesday evening; see their wish list here.

On the South Side, groups that could use your support include Casa Catalina, in Back of the Yards. Casa Catalina has been a partner of Soup & Bread from the very beginning. Sister Joellen Tumas, who runs it, is a force of nature. It takes a crisis of this magnitude to sideline her, but sidelined she is; housebound for now due to age and a preexisting condition. They are in need of volunteers and donations now more than ever.

Nearby, at 51st and Laflin, Su Casa Catholic Worker and its adjacent Frieda’s Kitchen are also in need. They’re running a Facebook fundraiser here. Over in Pilsen, the Pilsen Food Pantry *just* moved last week to a new location, and are up and running already, observing some strict no-touch protocols. See their website for how you can help by donating gift cards, delivering meals to home-bound clients, and more. (Got a big tent you’re not using? They hope to move outdoors just as soon as the weather allows.) And in South Chicago, where resources and jobs have been scarce for years, the Southeast Side of Chicago food pantry strives to keep their small, three-month-old operation running, as demand climbs.

Sister Joellen, before she got sidelined, March 18.

Sister Joellen, before she got sidelined, March 18.

These are *just a few* of the organizations Soup & Bread (and you) have supported this year; please, if you are able, consider donating directly to them, or to a hunger relief organization in your neighborhood, or see the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s site for how to give and get involved citywide.

Meanwhile, today, I’m going to go volunteer in the pantry at La Casa Norte, who—as part of the Northwest Food Partners Network—were supposed to be the partner agency for this final night of Soup & Bread. They have seen their need double in the past week, and (as elsewhere) their volunteer base is dwindling. If you can help, contact Diana Torres,

Tonight, after the food pantry, during regular S&B time, Sheila, Eiren, Amanda, and I are meeting online to raise a glass to each other, catch up, and mark the moment with some virtual pie. And then, we’ll figure out what to do next.

Thanks, stay safe, and be in touch. We miss you!

Martha and Soup & Bread

PS: You can still buy a hat! See our online merch site here.

PPS: Can’t figure out what to cook? Don’t forget there are ten years worth of soup recipes archived right here. Search by keyword at the bottom of the middle column on our home page.




Posted: Wednesday Apr 1,2020 10:33 AM In Uncategorized

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