Indwell, a Christian charity that creates affordable housing in three Ontario cities, made good use of one of its community center kitchens in October, hosting its first-ever Soup Series on Wednesday afternoons.
Supporting more than 400 households in Hamilton, Woodstock and Simcoe, Indwell also promotes community within these cities. In Hamilton, it does that through programming at the Dr. John M. Perkins Centre, which is home to New Hope Church, a Christian Reformed congregation. On four Wednesdays in October, the Perkins Centre kitchen welcomed participants to make and share a healthy, seasonal soup (and a sweet dessert) in conjunction with the City of Hamilton’s Food Literacy Month.
Jess Brand, Hamilton apartments program manager for Indwell and part of the leadership team at New Hope, said the series was an extension of the organization’s previous efforts to have an “active food presence” in the city. “We have ongoing Collective Kitchens in many of our different communities, and tenants regularly prepare food together and share potluck meals,” Brand said. “There are so many ways that our individualist culture keeps us separate from one another—one of the strong efforts in Housing Support is to catalyze community in our apartment buildings. Preparing food brings people together, shows strengths and talents that are sometimes hidden, and ends with deliciousness!”
The guest chefs in October enjoyed tomato soup and goat cheese, chili and cinnamon rolls, potato-leek soup with apple-berry crumble, and pumpkin soup on Halloween. Indwell’s staff team developed the idea together, pulling recipes from family favorites and sourcing ingredients, like the berries, from their own garden or local markets (apples and pumpkin).
Between five and 15 individuals participated each week of the series, including tenants and guests. “We had so many positive responses on Facebook and other social media, and gained a few new connections,” Brand said. She expects the series to be repeated. “Our tenants have been asking for us to keep this going perhaps on a monthly basis through the winter. January in particular can be a difficult month—post Christmas and holidays—and so cozying up with soup and a shared meal will help us through those winter blues.”