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There’s a ‘soup-it-forward’ scheme in Liverpool so people can get a hot meal this winter

1 year ago

There’s a ‘soup-it-forward’ scheme in Liverpool so people can get a hot meal this winter

By Dawn Collinson

There’s a ‘soup-it-forward’ scheme happening in Liverpool so people who need it can get a free hot meal this winter.

Squash, which is an arts and health initiative in Toxteth, is inviting anyone who buys a soup in its café to buy a second for someone else.

That way anyone can go in, no questions asked, and have a warming bowl of homemade healthy soup without worrying about the cost.

SQUASH FEAST Weds 29th insta square

“It comes from an original idea which started in Naples after the war when people would buy and donate another coffee for someone who couldn’t afford one,” explains Clare Owens, co-director of Squash.

“We encourage people to buy a second soup when they buy one for themselves and we also do fundraising through the year to get money in the coffers especially for winter so we can support the scheme when we know more people will need it.

“Anybody can come in and get a soup and we’ve found the scheme works very well because people are really generous.”

Squash’s vegetarian and vegan café, which is open from Wednesday to Saturday, is just one of the many community-driven ideas around food and arts taking place at the centre on Windsor Street. 

There’s also a communal garden where people can go along and join in the growing, as well as courses and events designed to improve wellbeing.

“We’ve been going for about 20 years, and in our current building for the past four,” says Clare. “This is a beautiful space that’s been designed by local people alongside a brilliant architect specialising in community design. 

“We want to break down barriers and make it as accessible as possible so we do things outside on the street and pop-ups, and there are lots of different ways for Squash to benefit as many people as possible, whether that’s a soup, a chat, a walk, or a cooking session.”

Soup it forward at Squash

Tying in with the soup-it-forward scheme, Squash has another soup-based event planned for November.

“We’re doing our Soup and Share, so anyone can come in, cook some soup and then share it because the social side of food is very important for us. 

“We’re getting people to reconnect with food, and to understand the seasonality and the joy of it – recognising what real food is and what it can do for you. We sell really brilliant organic fruit and vegetables and other ingredients in our shop, and we also do classes to encourage people to cook their own food.

“Next week we have a new idea, a Squash Celebration, which came from an artist we worked with. We all planted about 25 varieties of squash in early May, grown in Princes Park, in people’s gardens, and allotments in the gardens in Windsor Street. Now we’re going to harvest them and cook them together. 

“There’ll be two community feasts – one on Wednesday October 26 where we’ll cook the squashes in the morning and then eat lunch together, and one on Saturday October 29 when we’ll have a disco squash feast with a DJ, so everyone dances while they cook and then eats together.”

“We try to bring some fun to food as well as being serious about its origins, supporting local producers and growing food ourselves.”

Central to that is The Grapes Community Food Garden, next door to Toxteth TV on Windsor Street, where everyone grows communally, rather than in separate plots.

Outside Squash building photo credt Mark Loudon
Credit: Mark Loudon

“Some people have been gardening with us for years, other people pop in for one session, and anything in between,” says Clare. “It’s more like a therapeutic and a social garden than a purely food-growing garden although we do still get a lot of yields from there. 

“On Windsor Street there’s a real mixture of housing so people might take something away and grow it in their own garden or they may only have a window ledge so then herbs are really good for that. 

“Not only can you learn more about gardening, it’s about the social interaction, being able to talk and share ideas. It’s open for anyone to come, but probably 90% are within walkable distance, so it’s just a way to bring the local community together – to grow and then cook the food, to do a class, or to just eat and chat.”

Find out more about Squash Liverpool here.



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