BRISBANE food retail manager Whitney Chapman believes one cup of soup can help get a homeless person off the streets.
The SumoSalad store manager based in MacArthur Central in Brisbane’s CBD, offered free cups of soup to Brisbane’s homeless as part of a national partnership with the St Vincent de Paul Society.
“I went around the city to various spots where I knew there were homeless people who weren’t having access to food or anything, and I would just give them a cup of soup and ask them about their day,” Ms Chapman said.
“The stories you hear from some people are just so real, and you think it could happen to anyone.
“Just the thanks and the recognition they give you for helping them, it makes you want to do more.”
Ms Chapman’s store is one of the chain’s 108 donating money to the St Vincent de Paul Society to support their work with the homeless.
Since April, SumoSalad stores across Australia have been inviting customers to buy a $2 soup and donate to the St Vincent de Paul Society, or post a photo online with the hashtag #HeatUpTheStreet for SumoSalad to donate the cost of one soup.
Ms Chapman’s store also gave out free soup to local shoppers this month, encouraging customers to leave a donation for Vinnies.
The MacArthur Central store has already donated $200 to the St Vincent de Paul Society but Ms Chapman believes donations are on the rise.
“With the donation boxes, most people won’t look at it, but then someone will put a little bit in and then you get people watching, and it’s a chain reaction,” she said.
“Once someone realises this is good, they think they can open their heart too.”
According to the 2011 Australian Census, more than 105,000 Australians are homeless, with 19,383 from Queensland.
SumoSalad founder and chief executive officer Luke Baylis said it was “everyone’s right to enjoy good food no matter” their circumstances.
“To help make a difference Sumo have teamed up on a national level with Vinnies, to drive awareness and help raise money to help Vinnies better support people who are at risk, and experience homelessness,” Mr Baylis said.
“It’s an overwhelming problem, and with winter upon us we really hope to make a difference.”
Vinnies Queensland chief executive officer Peter Maher said the “great collaboration” with SumoSalad was timely with the escalating winter chill.
“It’s been particularly cold this week and I would imagine that many people are reaching for the soup to help warm up,” Mr Maher said.
“For some that’s not an option, so by making that extra donation through SumoSalad, people are providing those doing it tough with the basic necessities of life.”
Mr Maher said the society assisted more than 296,000 Queenslanders last year “experiencing tough times where budgets couldn’t stretch to buy blankets, enough food on the table or lifesaving medicine”.
“We get calls every day from people across the state who need a hand up during hard times and to get back on their feet,” he said.
“There is still time for people to share a photo of themselves with a soup slammer on social media using #heatupthestreet.”