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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of February 13 - 19, 2002


Soupers feed countyís hungry with free meals

Express Staff Writer

The seven women who were having dinner together in early January know there are hungry people in Blaine County.

And they know many of them personally.

But as much as they and their fellow Soupers feed many of the valleyís hungry, they know there are more they are not reaching with their hot meal program.

Soupers are the women and men involved in the Souper Supper program started on Dec. 8, 1997, by Margie Hill and a group of her friends.

The four-year-old program currently provides meals twice a week on Monday and Thursday evenings at the St. Charles Parish Hall in Hailey.

But to call Souper Supper a program or an organization is somewhat misleading, since it has little or no hierarchy to it.

What holds Souper Supper together as an organization is not a set of rules and meetings and rank. It is the committed people who have joined together to feed the hungry.

The seven women at that early January dinner on a Wednesday night at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church were Ragna Caron, Lynn Flickinger, Joan Anderson, Celia Streit, Tara Martin, Elizabeth Larroquette and Cindy Jesinger.

The dinner was a steering committee meeting although the last two women are not on the committee.

It is at these once-a-month meetings that the Soupers make sure that someone has all the suppers covered for the next three months.

And every Monday and Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the St. Charles Parish Hall, the Soupers serve up a hot meal for anyone who walks through the door.

No questions asked.

Caron said the mission of the Souper Supper is "to serve hot meals to those who need them," and thatís that.

Soupers are very much aware of the pride of the people they serve, and they will not compromise this pride.

To this end, they practice anonymity. They never reveal who theyíve served.

Streit said Soupers will socialize with their diners to help them feel at home, but "we donít ask for names, we donít ask for telephone numbers, we donít ask for addresses."

But there is something the Soupers want from the hungry.

They want them to come.

"There is obviously a need if weíve been doing this for so many years," Flickinger said. "We served more than 1,700 meals last year."

But, she said, there are more people out there doing without food. They just arenít making it to the dining room at the parish hall.

The reason, the women said, was pretty much pride and a sense of humiliation.

Martin had this message for these people.

"You just have to come. All you have to do is come. Pop your head in, and if you feel comfortable, just sit down. If you donít feel comfortable, weíll seat you where you will feel comfortable."

And if a diner prefers, the Soupers will put a "to-go" meal together for him or her.

What the Soupers strive for is a family feeling, and this is reflected in the Souper Supper menus.

"We serve what we would serve our families," Caron said.

What this means is a wide variety of menus because each meal has a different Souper responsible for whatís served.

Roast turkey, lamb stew, and rice with chicken breast are some of the entrees. And a salad, vegetable dish and bread is always part of a Souper Supper.

One volunteer pays for and cooks up steaks and mashed potatoes.

But, the Soupers said, they donít get too fancy. The people they serve want comfort food like macaroni and cheese or spaghetti.

The list of people and businesses the Soupers credit with supplying time, money and food is a long one, and one they are reluctant to recite off the tops of their heads for fear of leaving someone out.

Suffice it to say that generosity is alive, well and thriving in Blaine County, and the Soupers know it firsthand.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.