SOUP! Project Fed by Door County’s Giving Spirit

Mary Mead, of the Shoreline Restaurant, selects a bowl. Photo by Kay McKinley Arneson.

Since it began five years ago, the SOUP! Project, hosted by the Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek, has nourished those hungry for food as well as creative expression. But, a third group – area volunteers – has also been fueled by SOUP!.

The giving starts at a young age. Each year, about 300 Door County elementary school children create bowls to be sold on the event day. This year that day, which includes a soup-and-bread buffet for those who purchase bowls, will be held on Saturday, Feb. 5, from 11 am – 3 pm at Peninsula School of Art.

Through the efforts of 250 others who create bowls (individually or through an area organization) the proceeds directly benefit those in need in Door County. SOUP! proceeds are split between the Peninsula School of Art’s Outreach Program, which provides educational art projects to students and families free of charge, and Feed My People, Clothe My People of Sturgeon Bay.

Every year, Estella Huff, director of operations for Feed My People, Clothe My People, takes on dishwashing duty for over 500 diners during the SOUP! buffet, which is served with food donated by area businesses and restaurants. According to Huff, last year’s $3,500 donation bolstered two areas.

“Because of the donation, we’re able to buy fresh items like dairy and meat,” she says. “The other part is used to provide healthy weekend snacks for 222 children from low income families in Southern Door Public schools through our Backpack Buddies Program.”

Children who create the bowls are actually helping some of their classmates. Cathy Hoke, executive director of Peninsula School of Art, underscores this point.

“As important as the art-making is, teaching the children about the importance of giving back to their community is equally valuable,” she says. “Since each of their bowls will be sold at the SOUP! event, they learn through their own creativity and work, that they can make a difference to those less fortunate.”

Margaret Lucas and her students at St. John Bosco created bowls on Tuesday, Nov. 9. Photo by Kay McKinley Arneson.

Jane Moeller has acted as a volunteer facilitator for the making of bowls since the inception of SOUP!. She says the spirit of giving has swept through her Sturgeon Bay neighborhood.

“Getting involved in SOUP! is a feel-good activity; my neighborhood does it as a community event each year,” she says. “Many [of my neighbors] have been on the board of Feed My People and are dedicated to providing for that need.”

Moeller also notes that there’s an immediate benefit for families who participate: “It’s great to see how members of a family feed off each other. Adults who don’t think of themselves as artistic, at first come to help their child make a bowl and then end up making one of their own.”

Moeller says one of her favorite bowls was made by a parent and depicted the football stadium crowd at a Michigan State vs. Wisconsin game.

Each year, Pastor Bruce Foster, of Shepherd of the Bay Lutheran Church in Ellison Bay, has hosted a bowl-making event and baked 40 sizeable loaves of bread the day of SOUP! to donate to the buffet.

He also sees bowl-making as an enriching “trans-generational” activity.

“Our Sunday School children and young parishioners are joined by seniors in our bowl-making,” he says.

Volunteers man the soup line at a recent SOUP! event. Photo by Kay McKinley Arneson.

With an event that has grown in terms of volunteers and participants in the last five years, Cinnamon Rossman, head of the SOUP! Project and director of community programs and events for Peninsula School of Art, has seen the largest difference in participants’ perspectives and understanding of SOUP!.

“I’ve made it a point to introduce the concept of giving to the children when they make their bowls,” she says. “The students now are more interested in creating a piece that someone would like to purchase rather than keep the bowls for themselves.”

The Peninsula School of Art is located at 3900 County Road F. For more information call 920.868.3455 or visit

Help Fuel This Year’s SOUP! Project

Those who wish to create bowls for the SOUP! Project are invited to do so, free of charge, on the following Saturdays, from 10 am – 2 pm:

Bowl Making and Decorating:

• Dec. 4 – Peninsula School of Art, 3900 County Road F, Fish Creek

• Dec. 11 – Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 1756 Michigan Street, Sturgeon Bay

• Dec. 18 – Peninsula School of Art

Glazing Only:

• Jan. 8 – Peninsula School of Art