Stone Soup Collective: Making soup sustainable
If you are tired of being constantly bombarded with emails attempting to persuade you to take part in random campus activities, you are not alone. I am an incredibly introverted - and lazy - individual, so it’s easy for me to dismiss the notifications and move on. That’s too bad, because for those of you who, like me, don’t or didn’t read them, you are missing out on some great opportunities. A prime example of one of those opportunities is the Stone Soup Collective, and organization that stems from the Office of Sustainability.
The Stone Soup Collective’s main goal is to simultaneously battle food waste and food insecurity on campus; they accomplish this by using leftover food from local businesses to make soup that is given out for free on campus every Wednesday.
To learn more about the process, I decided to reach out and volunteer on February 6 - and that’s just another one of the many great characteristics of Stone Soup: anyone can volunteer.
The soup is made in the kitchen of the Ansonborough House on Meeting Street from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. The type of soup made depends on what is donated. Luckily, that is planned beforehand by Stone Soup’s founder Renee Orth, a local activist and attorney, along with College of Charleston seniors Tati Washington and Michelle Nannarone. With the ingredients available, it was decided that we would be making a sweet potato-black bean bisque as well as a sweet potato-peanut soup with collard greens.
We started by chopping veggies into bite size pieces with some early 2000’s pop playing in the background. I gotta say: it was pretty dope. Initially, there were only four of us chopping onions and potatoes, but the pace slowly picked up as more volunteers entered the building. In fact, by the end of the day there had been 12 volunteers total, including six first timers! The dicing went by surprisingly quick, and, after about an hour of chopping, we had filled a few tubs full of veggies that were ready for cooking.
Things started to heat up (literally) as we dumped those bad boys into their respective pots. A mixture of greens and spices were gradually added to the soups and the kitchen started to smell like a five star restaurant. While the soup masters perfected their masterpiece, the rest of us chit-chatted and awaited taste-test time.
If you didn’t get a chance to try the soup, it was pretty damn good. That’s not just coming from me either, but from everyone who tried it. After washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen, the soup was transported back to the Office of Sustainability on campus for later distribution. We finished early, so we all set about our separate ways and regrouped at 5:00 p.m. just outside the front yard of the office to begin distributing.
I’m not going to lie; I initially thought that not many people would show up. I could have never been more wrong. Staff, students, and even strangers lined up to get a warm serving of bisque for the entirety of the two hours we were serving. Many had brought their own bowls, and, as it got darker, it started to get kind of spooky seeing a bunch of hungry people emerge from the shadows. And when I say hungry, I mean hungry. The pots were huge, but just about all of the soup had vanished right before our very eyes. Now that is spooky.
In the spirit of the month of love, show Stone Soup some love and volunteer! Not only will you feel better about yourself, but you’ll get to help your community by feeding fellow students and cutting back on waste - every event the Office of Sustainability holds uses completely compostable material!
If you want to be even more involved, the Office of Sustainability is looking for someone to be in charge of Stone Soup next year during the fall. Currently, Nannarone and Washington are responsible for the program on campus, but, since they are seniors, they are worried that it may not pick back up again. If you have any questions or would like to contact the Office of Sustainability, you can visit them at 14 Green Way any time from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or you can shoot Tati Washington an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article and Photos by Staff Writer Duncan Kackley