KELOWNA - Soup Sisters has been warming bowls and hearts in Kelowna for the past eight years.
In partnership with founder of Okanagan Street Food, Chef Neil Schroeter, Soup Sisters provides the Kelowna Women’s Shelter with a monthly supply of fresh, home-made soup.
What makes this organization special is that it is entirely run by volunteers. The Soup Sisters volunteers organize events where up to 20 people from the community can come and make soup. Once the cooking is done, everyone can sit down together to enjoy some of the soup with wine and fresh bread. These events are $55 per person, and the fee covers the ingredients to make 150-250 servings of soup, use of the kitchen at Chef Schroeter's restaurant and a professional facilitator.
The Soup Sisters community was originally founded by Sharon Hapton in Calgary in 2009. The goal is to make soup to support local women’s shelters, and facilitate a dialogue around intimate partner violence.
"The statistic is that one in three women will experience intimate partner violence in her lifetime,” said Karen Mason, Executive Director at the Kelowna Women’s Shelter. “We know that there's so much shame and stigma still attached to this issue, it's probably a much higher number than that.”
Being able to discuss the issue in a setting where people have come together to make a difference in the community makes a big impact.
“To be able to have that conversation, or start that conversation, get people engaged not only in the issue of intimate partner violence but in how we're working in the community to solve it, is a really powerful tool for us in getting the word out,” said Mason.
The Women’s Shelter does not run a cafeteria like the Gospel Mission in downtown Kelowna. Rather, Mason describes the shelter as a big beautiful house where women can make meals for themselves and their children in a shared space kitchen. The soup comes in handy when making a meal isn’t feasible.
“It's like if you come home after a crazy day at work, and you know you've got some homemade soup in your freezer that you can quickly get and make for your kids,” Mason explains. “It's just a really wonderful blessing to know that that's there.”
The soup also saves the shelter money in the longterm.
“We spend over $20,000 a year on groceries to feed the women and children who stay at Kelowna women’s shelter,” Mason says. “So, the donation of soup is not only a beautiful warm hug from wonderful people in the community...but it means we have a bit of a break on our budget."
A representative from the Kelowna Women's Shelter is always present at the soup making, both to thank all the participants and to share information on the Shelter and the effects of intimate partner violence.
The next soup making event will take place in August. To register for any soup making event, book through the Soup Sisters Kelowna Facebook page.
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