Shawna Waters is in her second year with Second Harvest Food Bank. She applied after hearing about an inspiring program called “The Big Idea Initiative,” and she now leads the effort that spans 44 schools across eight counties.
The full-time staff at Second Harvest is small, with about 35 employees, so volunteers are always welcome and a huge part of how the organization operates, Waters said.
“If it wasn’t for volunteers coming in, whether it’s sorting food, helping out with our distributions or assisting within our school programs, there is no way we could do it,” Waters said.
Schools in Delaware County are part of the food bank’s Big Idea Initiative and on Monday, Oct. 5 local restaurant workers, residents and volunteers participated in the 11th annual Soup Crawl in downtown Muncie to help raise funds to fight generational poverty. According to a study done by the U.S. Census in 2022, 30.4 percent of the Muncie population is living in poverty.
The Soup Crawl— sponsored by PrimeTrust Federal Credit Union— showcased 20 plus large and local restaurants, each displaying a different recipe offered to those who bought a ticket to the sold-out event. Due to rainy weather, the event took place inside the Patterson Block building.
Outside there were a few pop-up stands. Each restaurant had an employee accompanied by one of the staff members at Second Harvest.
The event drew attention to a neighboring building where a new restaurant, Sunny Side Up just opened a few days prior. Those in attendance could find a spicy Albondigas soup; a Mexican meatball soup containing carrots, corn, potatoes and tomatoes with a kick to it.
Outback Steakhouse has been participating in the Soup Crawl for the past five years. This year, the company provided cups of chili. Due to the company’s participation in the Soup Crawl, employee Joey Harper said more business is drawn to Outback.
“As a community, I would say it’s a good way for us to connect and get together,” Harper said. “The people at this table, I wouldn’t have chatted with before.”
Not only does the event serve as a fundraiser for Second Harvest and raise money to help local schools end generational poverty, but the caterers, local restaurants and nonprofits all compete with one another in hopes of earning the People’s Choice Award, a prize given at the end of the evening based on the attendees’ vote of their favorite soup.
The first-place winner of the People’s Choice was the Emily Kimbrough Museum with their tart cherry soup. Second place was Mama and Son’s with their zuppa soup, and third was Westminster Village with their General Tso’s Chicken soup, according to Second Harvest.
The first stand on the second floor of the Patterson Block building was run by Allie Owens, a server at The Clubhouse, which shared its southwest corn chowder. This event was the first for Owens, and the second for The Clubhouse. Owens said a manager named Tyler was the reason the restaurant showed up to the event.
“[Tyler] just wanted to be able to donate and compete in a competition— we’re all competitive— but mostly just donate for people to be able to come out, have fun and eat soup. So to the community, I think it’s just bringing everyone together in a room or two to meet new companies, try new food [and] try new soups,” Owens said. “And for us, it’s just [about] getting our name out there. We’ve got our menu out here to hopefully drive people to come eat at The Clubhouse.”
Organizers exceeded their fundraising goals for the Soup Crawl by raising $8,500 which will be put to work helping more than 18,000 children across East-Central Indiana. People interested in volunteering with Second Harvest Food Bank can get more information at curehunger.org.
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