Columbus SOUP awarded Abe’s Kitchen with a sizable grant during their ninth event on Sunday, November 15, 2015. The event, held at Vue Columbus, brought together 237 philanthropists and was themed on businesses with a social enterprise edge.
Since June of 2013, the group has been holding events to change the way people think about philanthropy. They bring together community minded people who enjoy a meal of soup and bread, and then vote on which featured business should receive the grant dollars. The $7 entry fee is kept low to drive home the point that anyone can be a philanthropist.
“Abe’s Kitchen won the hearts and votes of our audience,” says Bryant Miller, Communications Director and Co-Founder of Columbus SOUP. “We chose the $7 price point because we want philanthropy to be accessible to anyone. Some people give more, while others count their change to attend. It’s one of the most heart-warming experiences to see the community come together for a common good.”
The program came to Columbus in December of 2012, after Catey Seiser visited Detriot SOUP, loved it, returned home, and got a few people together to begin a similar event. Events are held every quarter. Each event focuses on a theme to allow groups an equal chance of winning. Past themes include Art & Culture, Community Gardens, Community Empowerment, Women’s Empowerment, Childhood Enrichment, and Environmental Initiatives. Themes are chosen for the next quarterly event by the current audience in attendance.
“In our nine events, our SOUP community has given away $21,338 in cash and in-kind donations,” says Miller. Miller emphasizes that 100% of the entry fee goes to the grant for the winner. Each quarterly event normally requires about $500 in operating costs, and Columbus SOUP works with a presenting sponsor who typically covers that cost.
“Last summer, however, we were fortunate to be a part of the Lucky’s Market ‘Bags For Change’ program, where we raised nearly $2000,” says Miller. “With that generous donation, Columbus SOUP is able to cover our own operating costs for the next year, which means we’re able to use presenting sponsorship money to boost the micro-grants instead.”
For each event, RSVPs are opened a couple of weeks in advance. As the event approaches, reminders go out to make sure those planning to come, do so.
“Originally when we opened RSVPs for the fall event, our event sold out in three days, and we had over seventy people on the waitlist,” says Miller. “In the end, we were able to let everyone on the waitlist in! Our SOUP community – the green spoon army – knows that an empty seat means less money for the night’s winner, so they’re great about letting us know if they can’t make it.”
Donated soups for Sunday’s event included: Butternut Squash by The Whitney House, Gumbo by Da Levee, Corn Chowder by Explorer’s Club, Quinoa and Kale by Square Plates, Smoked Turkey Alphabet Soup by CaJohns, and Red Lentil by Sababa.
SOUP participants raised $1,720 for the night’s winner, and a $1,000 boost from the evening’s sponsor CleanTurn International as well as Whole Foods bumped the grant total to $2,720.
This was Morgan Howard’s second SOUP event and she loves the genuine excitement felt in the room, and can’t wait for the next one.
“The one thing I really appreciate is being involved in the micro-grant process,” says Howard. “From the time you give your donation at the door, through watching the presentations, voting with your green spoon, and then ultimately seeing the winning project be awarded that evening…it’s an inspiring process and you have the opportunity to learn about really great projects and initiatives taking place in the community.”
The raffle prize raised an additional $700 which was awarded to ECOS (Ohio State Engineers for Community Service) to help build a custom-designed bike to make a disabled girl’s holiday extra special.
Last night’s businesses up for the grant included:
- – Abe’s Kitchen, The food truck seeks to provide healthy and affordable meals to areas experiencing food insecurity (households that have limited or no access to adequate food).
- – MPACC (Movement Pursuing Arts, Commerce, & Community), The Maroon Arts Group (MAG) is a collective of creatives who have galvanized to develop and provide a platform for conscious art centered around the preservation and promotion of cultures of African descent.
- – Wild Goose Creative, Wild Goose Creative (WGC) is a nonprofit community arts organization that provides space, education, and resources to any artist in central Ohio.
- – Tiny Acres, Tiny Acres has been perfecting the technology and design of a converted shipping container to produce food year-round–helping to address the shortage of fresh, local food in Central Ohio.
- – Ohio State Engineers for Community Service (ECOS), Launched in September, the Bike Design Project provides specially designed bikes to children with disabilities.
“When we won Columbus SOUP, I was very grateful,” says Jen Martin, Director of Operations for Abe’s Kitchen. “Columbus SOUP always highlights people doing amazing work in Columbus, and we were honored to receive the support of the attendees last night.”
Martin has been to six previous Columbus SOUP events and had not dreamed that one day an organization she was a part of would receive the grant.
“Winning Columbus SOUP means to me that we are doing something that has a tangible impact that people can see and that is valued,” she says. “With these resources, Abe’s Kitchen will be able to improve and begin to expand our mission to serve more families.”
Since April of 2015, Abe’s Kitchen has been using their food truck to bring their Healthy Economical Accessible and Tasty (HEAT) menu to food deserts in Columbus. Their first season of meal service was September 8th- October 17th in North Linden. The grant will allow them to expand into additional serving opportunities, starting in Spring 2016. They also plan to support other local businesses when it comes to sourcing vegetables and purchasing ingredients.
“While serving $2 meals in the parking lot of the Linden Elementary, we are also building relationships with customers that are outside of our regular circles of families and friends,” says Thomas Adams, Founder of Abe’s Kitchen. “In time, we hope Abe’s Kitchen will also be a platform for other groups to partner with Linden residents.”
At Sunday’s event, an Outfit Good t-shirt campaign was launched and will run through November 29, 2015. For every shirt sold, Columbus SOUP earns $10.
“In true SOUP fashion, we’re giving all that money away,” says Miller. “Each team member has chosen a favorite charity, and we invite everyone to head to our blog to cast a vote where we give the money.”
Photo by Rebekah Flory Photography for Columbus SOUP.
For more information, visit ColumbusSOUP.org.