A newly established collective called the SoupaGroup has come together in an innovative way to cook thousands of litres of soup a day using “giant pots”, that are usually used to brew beer.
This in an attempt to help with the hunger crisis facing many of Cape Town’s communities during the national Covid-19 lockdown – especially those who live hand to mouth.
The Woodstock Brewery, Drifter Brewing Company, Stellenbosch Brewery and the District Six Working Committee alongside eager volunteers have created a non-profit cooperative to produce the soup and then distribute it to communities where existing soup kitchens are providing food daily.
“It’s basically the kitchen of the brewery,” said Andre Viljoen, founder and owner of the Woodstock Brewery, who completed the first test run just over a week ago. The very first batch of soup was cooked and sent out on Tuesday last week.
Between the Woodstock Brewery and Drifter Brewing Company, they produce on average about 3 000 litres of soup a day, which translates to some 9 000 hungry people being fed across 10 communities.
“A soup kitchen in one of the poorer areas spends hours trying to cook a batch because the heating source compared with the volume of the pot that they’re trying to do large batches in, heats up very, very slowly. So a cook can take anything from three to five hours to cook a meal for lots of people. We can do that in an hour!” said Viljoen.
The Woodstock Brewery has 3 000 litre pots that can boil 2 000 litres at a time, and their aim is to scale up this project and get more people involved.
“We can cook and pump out, cook and pump out and that’s straightforward,” Viljoen told News24.
Where they experience a “bottleneck” is in the processing time required to prepare the vegetables. This part of the process is largely dependent on how many people are available.
Nearly six tons of vegetables are bought twice a week from the Epping market at a discounted price. The co-op relies solely on donations from the public and volunteers to help streamline the process.
At the end of the day, bakkies from surrounding communities, loaded with large metal pots, arrive at the brewery to pick up litres of soup to take back to their hungry communities.
Karen Breytenbach, one of the coordinators for the SoupaGroup, said they were able to establish a distribution network through the District Six Working Committee, who has grassroots organisations already feeding people on the ground.
“We are hearing reports that the need and the hunger is rising every day… we don’t want a situation of malnutrition and the coronavirus and poverty all coming together, having a disastrous result,” she said.