SOUP; an acronym with a meaningful break down, Share our United Pantry, has been trying to end local hunger in Somerville, MA, for over 16 years. As a separate entity, but located under the extensive umbrella of the Somerville Homeless Coalition, this small, yet tightly packed, food pantry is located on the backside of First Congregational Church of Somerville. Today, we were able to take a quick trip over to visit our new friend, Nina Siciliano, manager at Project SOUP, accompanied by a long time volunteer. We saw first-hand how the pantry functions on a daily basis.
Along with our enthusiasm, we were excited to bring about 100 pairs of our best selling BamBam socks, which in turn brought real smiles to incoming clients of Project SOUP. One local woman gave me a bit of her time, generously sharing part of her story with me. Here, to pick up food for her two children and herself, she selflessly turned down items she knew she wouldn’t use. She left with some food essentials to warm their bellies, and colorful socks to warm their feet.
The SOUP pantry manages to keep its supply and open their doors to Somerville residents six days of the week. Free suppers are offered, as well as distribution of fresh and canned foods. On Sundays they close.
The food is collected at the pantry for distribution to eligible elderly and disabled citizens of Somerville, and they have truly made use of any and all accessible space. Boxes and bags of bread are piled high, tubs of canned food and other non-perishables line the walls and cover the shelves. As we expressed our astonishment at the collections, one of the volunteers explained that this supply was actually less than usual.
They had enormous walk in freezers and fridge space, for collection of fresh vegetables, dairy and meats, but those were surprisingly in low stock during our visit. Thankfully, due to the kind-hearted people and companies still making contributions, food manages to make its way through Project SOUP’s doors regularly. From Panera to Target, and even local Boston brands, they receive donations of pretty much anything you can imagine. These contributions aren’t as unattainable as you would tend to assume. Nina discussed the networking and connections it takes to make something like Project SOUP a reality, and how keeping these relationships is the key to SOUP’s success. FEAT will continue to partner with Project SOUP, and donate whenever possible.
As always, if you can manage a donation, please visit Somerville Homeless Coalition's donate website, https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/shc
-Bianca, Spreading Smiles