Seward soup kitchen enduring pandemic on 7th anniversary

Soup for You serves up a to-go cup of soup, but hopes it can celebrate its 7th anniversary in person sometimes soon.

A soup kitchen in Minneapolis' Seward neighborhood is proving a little can go a long way, even in a pandemic.

Without any big corporate sponsors, Soup for You recently reached its 7-year anniversary. The group is holding off celebrating, though. They are waiting to get back to their original pre-pandemic vision of serving the community in the basement of the old Bethany Lutheran Church.

Chef Judah, as he’s best known, can be found with a few volunteers making organic, homemade meals for anyone who is hungry. There are no recipes. They work with whatever ingredients are donated by several partners and he is inspired by his travels around the globe.

Judah spent a year experiencing homelessness himself as he lived under the Franklin Bridge in the early 1980s.

"I was one paycheck away, like a lot of people were," he said. "Lost a job and then I lost my place and ended up on the streets. And got to know a lot about what that’s like."

These days, the empty basement is the opposite of the lively lunch hour volunteers and guests enjoyed pre-pandemic. Complete with a house band ("The Grateful Fed"), tables used to be filled with those needing help and those supplying donations sitting side-by-side.

Bonnie Thibault is one of about 45 regulars thankful for the takeout meals Soup for You continues to offer five days a week, despite to-go packing doubling overall costs.

"It’s amazing what they come up with," Thibault said. "Sometimes they are short, but they make due."

For now, volunteers bring the free pantry and toiletry items up from the basement each day so selections can be safely made through the glass doors.

"Our mission is even more vital right now," said Judah. "Whether it’s meals, whether it’s groceries that we provide and put this excess food to use and get it in the hands of people who can use it."

While there’s a strong craving for the pre-pandemic ways of doing things on Franklin Avenue, good food continues to do great things.