Soup’s on at Soup D’Shore

Student-run nonprofit offers warm meals, social programs

BY DAN HOWLEY
Staff Writer

 Students in Monmouth University’s entrepreneurship program serve lunch at Soup D’Shore, a community soup kitchen founded by the students and based at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Long Branch. Students in Monmouth University’s entrepreneurship program serve lunch at Soup D’Shore, a community soup kitchen founded by the students and based at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Long Branch. A group of 35 Monmouth University students are doing their part to help combat hunger in the local community by providing weekly meals to those in need.

The students, members of the university’s entrepreneurship program, are the founding members of Soup D’Shore, a community soup kitchen based at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church on Broadway in Long Branch.

“The mission of the nonprofit organization is to establish a pleasant, wholesome and delectable dining experience, while combining a host of other services for the community,” entrepreneurship student Jackie Paszinski said.

According to Monmouth University professor John Buzza, the Soup D’Shore project is “giving the students real-life experience, and on top of that, helping out the community.”

Each semester, Buzza requires his students to create a new business from the ground up.

Throughout the years, Buzza’s classes have been responsible for founding 14 businesses, including a thrift boutique for a nonprofit organization; turning around a failing business; and marketing a pasta sauce, which is now a $2 million per-year product.

“We in our entrepreneurship class, at the beginning of the semester, decide collectively what business we want to open up,” Buzza explained. “So, a soup kitchen was one of the businesses that was mentioned, and everybody kind of rallied around that thought. And that was the one that everyone wanted to do, so we took this on.”

Open every Tuesday evening, the soup kitchen, which held its grand opening on April 19, provides those in need of assistance with a warm meal as well as other services, including tax filing, budget seminars, health and wellness, and social work advocacy programs.

 Professor John Buzza (rear, third from left) and students in his entrepreneurship class founded a soup kitchen as a business project and a way to help the local community. Professor John Buzza (rear, third from left) and students in his entrepreneurship class founded a soup kitchen as a business project and a way to help the local community. Every aspect of the business, Buzza explained, is performed by his entrepreneurship students. “We are not using anyone from the outside. It’s 100 percent student effort.

“We break down our class into departments — sales, marketing and advertising, research and development, accounting, publicity, our executive board, etc.

“So everybody has different responsibilities,” Buzza said. One of the first issues the students faced was where to set up the soup kitchen. “We had a real estate department that went out and had to find where we were going to put the soup kitchen,” Buzza explained.

After some searching, the students came back with a plan to locate the soup kitchen at St. Luke’s.

Shortly after, the students began soliciting donations.

“Our donations come through sponsors, and they come through us purchasing the food. We are networking with food banks,” Buzza explained. “But a lot of it comes from donations and sponsorships.”

Organizations can also sponsor an entire evening at the soup kitchen for $500.

If a company chooses to sponsor a night, the students will hang up banners recognizing the organization’s donation. The $500 is then used to purchase supplies for the soup kitchen.

“It’s a great way to share the wealth, if you will,” Buzza said.

“We’ve had a couple of corporations already step up and have taken certain Tuesdays. We have about four or five Tuesdays already that are secured throughout the summer.”

One noteworthy donation was a $2,000 contribution by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. to help cover the project’s startup costs.

On a typical night at the soup kitchen, students prepare food, check inventory, set up for clients, and perform maintenance and cleaning.

The project also has an executive board made up of students who oversee the operation of the soup kitchen.

Awebsite, also set up by the students, provides information about the program, as well as donor benefits and upcoming events.

“It’s somewhere to go to take a break from all of the troubles in life,” said entrepreneurship student Cameron Nichols.

“There is no local soup kitchen in Long Branch or in that area; the closest one is in Red Bank. But there are still people in Long Branch and in the area that need our help,” Nichols said.

“And due to these economic times, a lot of people don’t know where their next meal is coming from. So it’s a great way to give back, and that’s why I think everybody was intrigued by this,” Nichols added.

For more information about Soup D’Shore, visit the group’s website at www.soupdshore.org

Contact Daniel Howley at dhowley@gmnews.com.