“Soup Angels provides me with a place to get food and interact with others without being judged. This program means a lot to me since I am able to go to a place that welcomes everyone, regardless of who you are.” —Soup Angels guest
Since opening its doors at Thanksgiving, 2006, Nyack’s own Soup Angels organization has been serving nutritious, homemade dinners to anyone who wants a meal, no questions asked. More than providing food, this extraordinary organization has been focused around a mission that its original founders, Katie Berry, Katherine Rife and Kathleen Myers created: to provide a meal served with dignity and respect in a restaurant-style atmosphere. Served on china, tablecloths, with candles, music and flower centerpieces in the spring and summer, each meals is offered to guests by approximately twelve to eighteen volunteers who set the tables, provide table service and clean up at the First Reformed Church at 18 South Broadway every single Monday and Wednesday, regardless of weather conditions (doors were even open during Hurricane Sandy!) In addition to these volunteers, totaling over 300, who serve on rotating shifts every eight weeks, Soup Angels is supported by the generosity of local purveyors, which include:
Bluefield Farms, Blauvelt NY, Bunbury’s, Piermont NY, Gypsy Donut, Nyack NY,
Harbor Hill, Nyack NY, Old World Food Market, Nyack NY, Pie Lady and Son, Nyack NY, Playhouse Market, Nyack NY,
Porky Products, Carteret NJ, Starbucks, Nyack NY. Valley Cottage Deli, Valley Cottage, NY.
Behind the scenes when Soup Angels opens its doors, there are dedicated teams who do the weekly shopping, cooking (with many teams led by professional chefs), soup preparation and preparation of homemade desserts.
A few vital statistics: Soup Angels serves between 60 and 92 guests per meal and sends out 1500+ meals across Rockland County, providing about 10,000 meals annually, including a bountiful Thanksgiving meal with turkey and all the trimmings, partially funded by an anonymous donor. Supported entirely by donations from volunteers, who each provide $5 when they serve, supplemented with money raised at the Nyack street fairs and matching gifts from companies, the organization has no government funding and no paid staff—it is fully staffed by volunteers.
In nearly eight years in operation, Soup Angels has expanded from serving one hot meal on Wednesday, to Monday night service, which consists of a hearty sandwich and soup or salad. Here are some sample menus:
Monday night: Roast beef sandwich with caramelized onions, Carrot ginger soup,
Beverages, Pound cake with fruit topping,
Banana or orange “to go.”
Wednesday night: Pork loin with herbs, Mashed potatoes, Spinach, Fresh salad, Ice cream sandwiches, Bounty bag “to go” —peanut butter & jelly sandwich, muffins and fruit.
With nearly 13% of Rockland’s population below the poverty level, according to the US Census, Soup Angels serves a diverse group of guests, including families, working poor and homeless. It is not surprising that word has spread in our community about this special haven, with a steady increase in the number of guests. As one guest recently said, “They make great meals and their volunteers are so friendly and welcoming. They don’t just give you the meal only—they also open their hearts and love to us. That’s all we could ever ask for.”
Soup Angels’ unique mission provides sustenance to both guests and its many volunteers, who enjoy the teamwork and quality of service. When the Soup Angels first got its start, according to Katie Berry, they “expected 60 volunteers, but got 150,” a number that has also continued to grow. As one volunteer described Soup Angels, “It provides me with a great sense of satisfaction and pride that I am able to contribute to a program that truly helps the community.”
Soup Angels recently marked its first marriage among volunteer staff, and celebrated one regular guest’s 87th birthday, complete with cake, candles and song.
For more information about Soup Angels, to obtain a free meal, serve as a volunteer, contribute tax-deductible donations, or learn about other food programs in Rockland County, visit www.soupangels.com