It has been more than a year since the Woodstock Brewery started using its brewing kettles to produce thousands of litres of soup daily to feed vulnerable people around Cape Town.
The brewery teamed up with Great Commission United Academy to form what is now known as the Mother Soup Project.
Adam Kane-Smith, fundraising and finance manager at Great Commission United (GCU), says the organisation became involved with the soup kitchen in June last year. GCU is a Heideveld-based, youth-focussed organisation using sport and education to uplift the community.
“A GCU donor, who found out about the soup, said he would make a donation to Woodstock Brewery on condition the soup produced with his donation is distributed by GCU. That’s how the partnership started.”
GCU is responsible for the administration of the funds of the Mother Soup Project.
Andre Viljoen, owner of the Woodstock Brewery, says, with a two-pot batch, they make 8 250 litres which get distributed to hundreds of soup kitchens across the city.
“We realised we could use our big brewery and brew house to make soup. Since the end April last year, we are on about 4,6 million meals which we send out with bread from Blue Ribbon. We also get other donations that we put through our distribution channels.”
Viljoen says they have found a new building in Epping where the project will be run from. “Going forward as an affordable predominantly vegetable-based feeding scheme, a permanent feeding solution needed to be looked at and we decided that we would try and build a permanent kitchen.”
Viljoen continues: “CGU has championed this project and we’re about halfway through. They’ve begun building the tanks and boilers. At the same time, we are busy with renovations. The manufacturing plant is near the Epping Vegetable Market.”
According to Kane-Smith, they are busy with extensive refurbishment of the Epping premises and should start producing soup there in September.
“We will be much closer to our beneficiaries. We make vegetarian soup so that it is acceptable for all religious beliefs. We are focussing on Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres and want to make sure ECDs get hot soup for their kids.”
He says they are in need of donations to complete the building.
Viljoen’s restaurant faced a uncertain future due to the effects of the hard lockdown last year (“Beer pots produce soup”, People’s Post, 1 September 2020). He has since been able to reopen his restaurant but the bulk of their revenue comes from alcohol sales.
“The restaurant is open but not doing much business because, being a beer restaurant, the beer is the champion. We are trying to do what we can to keep staff paid.”
Despite the lift of the ban on the sale of alcohol announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday 25 July, Vijoen says it will take a while for them to recover. “When there’s been funding available, we’ve used the funding to buy vegetable ingredients and fuel for the boilers to run the cooking. We have also subsidised some of our staff with a small stipend from donations. I don’t think we can carry on like this a lot longer.”
Viljoen says he is grateful that he has been able to retain his staff which are now multi-tasking between serving in the restaurant and helping with the soup kitchen.
He encourages people to make any contribution to the soup kitchen.