“Buffalo Soup” Makes The World Better

A group of University at Buffalo students has embarked upon a fun, effective, and noteworthy community-based project that infuses wholesome bowls of chicken noodle soup together with a whole lot of goodwill. Not since Sugar City hosted their Sunday Soup Grant and Potluck series has anything along these lines been orchestrated in Buffalo, to the best of my knowledge.

The UB students (in the Philosophy, Politics and Economics program) have taken a chapter out of an intriguing social experiment that was first launched in Detroit, Michigan. The crowdsourcing concept is based on the idea that soup not only soothes the soul, it can actually bring people together to affect positive change.

It was Jessica Kruger, PhD, UB clinical associate professor of community health and health behavior in the School of Public Health and Health Professions, that first brought the proposal of “Buffalo Soup” to instructor – David Gray, PhD, associate teaching professor of philosophy – who then passed along the notion of the event to his students. Kruger had come across a spin-off platform when she was based in Toledo, Ohio, where she attended several events.

The way that the Buffalo Soup event works is that attendees pay for a bowl of chicken noodle soup ($5, $10, or $25) that comes with garlic butter toasted crostini. The profits raised from the purchases of the meals are then earmarked as a $1,000 microgrant, to be passed on to a worthy non-profit.

On May 3 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Thin Man Brewery (492 Elmwood Avenue), four non-profits will vie for the $1000 microgrant. They will do this by delivering five-minute presentations that will paint a picture of their organization and how it benefits people in the community. After the presentations, followed by questions from the audience, a vote will take place. The audience will ultimately determine which organization will benefit from the crowdsourced funds.

Participating non-profits for Buffalo Soup are:

Project Mona’s House

The Lavender Room

Read It and Eat

UB Chapter of Food Recovery Network

“The purpose of this class is to have students synthesize what they have learned about philosophy, political science and economics throughout the program, while applying it all to achieve concrete social improvement,” says Gray, PhD, associate teaching professor of philosophy, who challenged three distinct teams* to make the world better. “Team Buffalo Soup responded to the challenge by planning this event, and hopefully starting what becomes a tradition in Buffalo of such events being held every year.”

“This is a fun way to help out and give back to the community that brings together organizations and groups across Buffalo in ways that help thinkers, dreamers and do-ers in our area get the funds they need to make a difference,” says Annabella Bogart, a senior law and psychology double major with a PPE minor, who is among the student organizers. “It’s an honor to work with faculty and fellow students in ways that give back to the community.”

“I’m so excited the students are taking this on,” says Kruger. “These students took the reins on a project that in other cities required the infrastructure of an entire organization and staff to make it happen. It’s a huge lift that they’re completing over the course of the semester.”

“I’m really proud of all of these students,” adds Gray. “They are getting out there and trying to have a positive impact on Buffalo.

“I can’t wait to see what happens.”

While Buffalo Soup has an integral community participation aspect, the other two teams are more reliant upon their own team members to fulfill the missions at hand.

Team Traffic Cones is collecting items that will populate a reading room in the women’s shelter at the Buffalo City Mission.

Gift of Thrift is collecting lightly used items from students’ dorms, such as clothing and appliances, which will serve as the inventory for a pop-up, with proceeds from item sales going to charity.

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