Celebrating soup during National Soup Month

A mother serving her child soup.
January 8, 2016
by Karen Hanner


January is National Soup Month, and so we wanted to take a moment to recognize what soup means to the Feeding America network and the more than 46 million people we serve – and also to recognize the generous donors who help us provide nutritious soup to people in need.

The word soup comes from French soupe ("soup,” "broth"), which comes through Vulgar Latin suppa ("bread soaked in broth") from a Germanic source, from which also comes the word "sop,” a piece of bread used to soak up soup or a thick stew.

The word restaurant (meaning "[something] restoring") was first used in France in the 16th century, to refer to a highly concentrated, inexpensive soup sold by street vendors and advertised as an antidote to physical exhaustion. In 1765, a Parisian entrepreneur opened a shop specializing in such soups. This prompted the use of the modern word restaurant for the eating establishments.

Soup is the foundation to the work done by the Feeding America network of food banks as reflected in the name of so many agencies commonly known as soup kitchens, which we now call meal programs as they serve so much more than soup! It’s where people who struggle to put food on the table find a warm place, a warm smile and a warm meal to comfort and sustain them, while providing hope for tomorrow.

At Feeding America, we’re fortunate to have a group of generous partners like Campbell’s, Panera, General Mills and Pacific who – in 2015 alone – donated more than 5 million servings of their famous soups to help feed people in need. We are also grateful for our collaboration with Zoup! this month, which we are calling “Make Soup Month Matter!” During the promotion, Zoup will invite their customers to donate $3.00 at the register to benefit their local food bank and Feeding America.

Almost all Americans appreciate a good bowl of soup. When we don’t feel well, chicken noodle soup makes us feel better. When our children come in from playing in the snow, they love tomato soup and grilled cheese. When we want a nourishing warm lunch, a bowl of vegetable soup can hit the spot. Black bean, won ton, broccoli and cheese, clam chowder, matzo ball, French onion, butternut squash – we all have our favorites which bring back childhood memories or family traditions including families facing hunger. Everyone appreciates experiencing the same comfort provided by a warm bowl of soup. Our Community Health and Nutrition experts have created healthy soup recipes for the people served by food banks. We are truly grateful that we have partners that help us provide this comfort and hope – in the form of soup – to American families in need.

*Karen Hanner is managing director of manufacturing partnerships at Feeding America.