SOUP hopes new ingredients add to appeal 

Betsy PickleOur Town Eats

Knoxville SOUP is trying some new things when it returns Tuesday, Sept. 26.

The popular crowd-sourcing, micro-grant-bestowing dinner is taking place at Church Street United Methodist Church, 900 Henley St. (corner of Henley and Main Street). It’s the first time SOUP, which was organized by the South Knoxville Alliance before becoming its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has crossed the Tennessee River to use a non-SoKno location.

Knoxville SOUP has always encouraged participation from across the county, and Church Street UMC welcomed the group to use its spacious Parish Hall this time. Event chair Gayla Guignard is hoping the location will capture the attention of people who haven’t heard of Knoxville SOUP previously.

“Church Street is an active and historic house of faith, and it’s known for hosting events with wide appeal,” Guignard says.

The SOUP template is often described as “soup, salad and a vote,” and that hasn’t changed. Local restaurants donate pots of soup and other food and drinks for attendees to consume after listening to four short presentations by groups – some large, some small – that need financial support for their civic-minded projects. A $5 donation at the door provides admission, a vote token for one’s favorite proposal and the delicious dinner. The project with the most votes wins all the money collected at the door.

SOUP traditionally includes a raffle of items donated by local businesses, which have ranged from gift cards to restaurants, sports and garden businesses, to collectible, vintage and pet items, to airplane rides. This time, on top of the raffle, there will be a silent auction of some beloved local memorabilia.

Signs from the Smoky Mountain Market at 2003 Chapman Highway, which opened in 1936, have been donated to SOUP for the auction. The market – known as the Old Number One – spurred the establishment of a number of siblings in its heyday. Market signs rescued from demolition will headline the silent auction.

On Tuesday, Knoxville SOUP announced the projects that will vie for votes at next Tuesday’s event:

  1. Appealing Children’s Garden – Local garden clubs plan to create a city children’s garden at the Ivan Racheff House and Gardens on Tennessee Avenue. The headquarters for the Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs, Racheff House is noted for its beautiful gardens, but local gardeners want to design an area specifically to appeal to children’s curiosity and use the playfulness of the feature to engage kids with nature.
  2. Vestal Bicycle Shop – While South Knoxville is noted for its many bicycle amenities, one neighborhood has been left out of the excitement. Kickstand Community Bike Shop is building a shop that will be a source for bikes in Vestal as well as a resource for repairs, bicycle safety and all bike-related information.
  3. Inspiring Connections Outdoors – The Sierra Club is behind this project to support growth for students at Lonsdale Elementary “through environmental education, inspire cross-cultural understanding, and increase civic participation.” In English, they mean they want to provide funds for Lonsdale students to visit Tremont in the Smokies.
  4. Creating Access to Our Waterways – There are plenty of put-ins at local waterways, but most are not accessible to people with disabilities. Catalyst Sports needs funds to purchase kayak carts that will allow adaptive athletes to access different sites for kayaking in and around Knoxville.

On Sept. 26, the doors open at 5:30 p.m. and presentations begin at 6 p.m. Alan Williams is the moderator. Plenty of parking will be available. For more information, visit Knoxville SOUP on Facebook

Betsy Pickle is a volunteer with Knoxville SOUP and a longtime local journalist.


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