Beatriz Balderrama Baleeiro, Biz/Tech reporter
The Café LinX is more than a friendly place where people can play board games with friends and grab some coffee. It’s also the home for Humber’s community program, the Soup Bar.
Patrons can choose from one of the many kinds of soups, seasonings and bread between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday at North campus. Students are encouraged to bring their own soup containers.
The “Pay-What-You-Can” program has partners such as Feed it Forward, the Faculty of Business, campus services and IGNITE, making it possible for students, faculty and staff dealing with food insecurities to have a nourishing meal.
“If you have five cents, you can leave five cents,” said Alexa Hoa, assistant manager of Cafe LinX and retail services. “If you have $1, you can leave $1. If you don’t have anything, you don’t have to leave anything.”
“It’s really just a feel-good program, I think it works well, especially here in this space, because it really pulls away the stigma of hunger,” she said.
Jagger Gordon, the Canadian executive chef and founder of the Feed it Forward community program, uses “feed Canadians, not landfills” as its motto, with the concept of handing out soup to people who are living with food insecurities in the city.
“As a chef, when I threw away my first tray of food, I noticed that there’s a waste. So I popped up in 2014, and Trinity Bellwoods was my first open kitchen. Thanksgiving we fed, I think 200 to 300 people, and that opened my eyes to the need to feed,” he said.
Feed it Forward, created in 2014, rescues food from grocery stores that would have been thrown away, repurposing it towards some of its many programs, such as Humber’s soup bar.
“All of our produce is basically obtained from my farm, and also Whole Foods is my sponsor,” Gordon said. “So all the products and everything I put in my ‘pay-what-you-can’ grocery store, and through the soup bar is strictly organic.”
The National Zero Waste Council conducted research on household food waste in Canada in 2017, and its findings were staggering. Canadians throw away 2.2 million tonnes of food worth about $17 billion each year.
The Soup Bar uses Humber’s HRT program facilities to cook healthy and delicious soups made from food diverted from the landfills that are still perfectly edible, with the help of volunteers who chop and combine the ingredients with seasoning and a dash of passion with no experience necessary, feeding students, faculty and anyone who is hungry.
“It’s just one of those great initiatives that no matter what walks of life that you come from, it’s here to serve everybody. And make sure that you have a great experience,” Hoa said.
Hoa had full support from campus services, IGNITE, the Faculty of Business and Feed it Forward to come together and feed the community one more day a week. It’s also expanding to the Humber Lakeshore community due to its high demand.
“When the Soup Kitchen returns, there’s this really nice and warm welcoming that we get from students, they really appreciate the soup, and they also really miss our company,” Hao said.
An average of 400 students are served every day, said Gordon, which is why he is considering keeping the Soup Bar open five days a week in the future.
Gordon cited former U.S. president John F. Kennedy and said it’s not about what your community can do for you, but what you can do for your community.