After 23 years of service, Colorado College’s Community Kitchen is approaching a new stage of creative innovation. In an effort to address the root causes of homelessness and hunger, the Soup Project was formed, a brainchild of CC’s Food Coalition and the Arts For Social Change Coalition.
This project allows students to take initiative in identifying important issues around community hunger in Colorado Springs and creating a detailed plan to address them.
CC’s Innovation Institute has offered $20,000 to the winning team of the Soup Project Challenge to fund their revamped soup kitchen goals. Four dedicated teams stepped up to the plate and presented their ideas to a panel and guests at the Empty Bowls benefit dinner on March 5.
One team hopes to engage the CC and local community by telling the stories of the homeless and chronically impoverished citizens of the area. “We know how powerful stories can be, and we think that if we create a platform for these people to tell their stories,” explained Paige Clark, one of the three students on the team. “We can eventually create a powerful shift in the way Colorado Springs views these issues and the people who experience them.”
The project would run a weekly writing and visual arts program for their clients and plans on publishing them in “Grits,” a zine-like insert in the Colorado Springs Independent.
They hope to share the stories over the KRCC radio show and in visual art exhibits around campus, including in a permanent archive space in the renovated library.
“Our students and faculty will have access to primary sources for research on homelessness, poverty, and hunger,” said Paige. “We’re also talking to some professors about integrating the program into some existing CC classes.” If their funding is successfully secured on March 5, they plan on hiring interns and putting their plan into action by the beginning of June.
Junior Sierra Wilbar and her team took a different path with their vision. “Our initiative aims to combine the safe, community-based space of a Family Day Center with innovative student-run programming to create an environment which supports and creates long-term solutions for families facing homelessness,” explained Sierra. The Family Day Center would provide families experiencing homelessness with access to showers, bathrooms, computers, a children’s area, a tutoring center, and a mailing address, which can assist with their immediate needs.
Additionally, the team hopes to implement programs for resume building and personal finance training to encourage their ability to prosper in the long-term. “Some criticism of CC’s original soup kitchen was that it was just a Band-Aid solution to a larger problem of homelessness,” noted Sierra. “Our Family Center addresses the problem at its core and provides families a means to get a job, find a home and break the cycle of homelessness.”
The project could absolutely get off the ground with $20,000, but sustaining its ambitious goals would require additional outside funding.
Both Paige and Sierra pitched their projects at the Empty Bowls benefit alongside fellow team members and group in the hopes of being awarded the generous sum of money. Though it is a competition of sorts, the underlying goal is to find the best and most effective way to combat homelessness.
“Every team deserves to win,” Paige stated. “CC will create some truly effective and meaningful partnerships in our community regardless of which team(s) get funded.”
For more information on the project or volunteer opportunities, students are encouraged to contact the Food Coalition interns at firstname.lastname@example.org.