Thursday, June 24, 2021
Community Kitchen Table Takes Up Where Souper Supper Left Off
A face painting and hula hooping—what’s not to like if you’re a little girl?!
Sunday, May 9, 2021


The Sun Valley Community School created a new position for Spanish and French teacher Calysta Phillips three years ago—that of Service Learning and Community Connections coordinator.

In that position, she was charged with the task of immersing students into the community through community service activities.

Students were given a list of 15 organizations and asked to choose two of the 15 to give $5,000 to through the Youth Philanthropy Initiative spearheaded by WOW The Generosity Project that's designed to get high school youth involved in philanthropy. In addition, Phillips has worked with students one-on-one to come up with projects that interest them, such as helping the Environmental Resource Center pull noxious weeds or planting bulbs at the  Sawtooth Botanical Garden.

Students were diligent to test the temperature of the tilapia before moving it to the serving table to be made into fish tacos.

But the No. 1 project that has arisen this year is the Community Kitchen Table. Students from Sun Valley Community School, Wood River High School and even one home school have planned meals, solicited a $5,000 donation from Project WOW to help buy food and arranged for places to stage their Community Kitchen Table.

Then they’ve shown up to flip burgers, turn hot dogs and dice tilapia raised by Sun Valley Community School students while treating the children who show up to games and music.

"The vision is to build bridges between students and families in our valley by providing meals, joy and a sense of community to those in need," said Phillips.

They set up in the Country Chalet parking lot south of Ketchum on Saturday. A few dozen adults and children munched on fish tacos they augmented with Mexican sour cream, salsa, slaw and cilantro. As they did, a dozen children played musical chairs—the winner choosing a Monster book as her prize.

Part of the idea of the Community Kitchen Table is to build community over food.

Some children painted watercolors, while others moved their hips side to side as they hula hooped for admiring grandparents and parents who clapped their hands and snapped pictures.

“This is great,” said Pamela Donoso, the program director of I Have a Dream Foundation. “Some of those who live In this neighborhood have not met their neighbors until now.”

The idea for the Community Kitchen Table originated with a phone call to Phillips from Lynn Flickinger, who had long helped oversee Souper Supper, a twice-weekly free meal provided at St. Charles Catholic Church in Hailey.

Flickinger said that Soupler Supper was closing its doors and asked if Phillips’ young charges would be willing to take it over.

Youngsters play Musical Chairs.

“A lot of us started when we were 60. Now we’re pushing 80,” she said.

It was not possible to continue Souper Supper in its traditional form because of COVID restrictions, Phillips said. But the students brainstormed and came up with the idea of taking food and fun outdoors to various neighborhoods throughout the valley.

Their prime idea was to bring joy to adults and children alike. But they also hoped to provide attendees with resources and information, such as the latest information regarding COVID vaccines.

“We want to nourish the mind, as well as the body,” said Phillips.

Plop! There goes another tilapia.

The next Community Kitchen Table will be held at Suntree Hollow Trailer park near Ketchum. That event will be followed by one at The Meadows Trailer Park south of Ketchum. It might move into The Hunger Coalition's new Cafe when cold weather returns.

 “We bring this to them, rather than them having to come to us,” said Herbert Romero, co-founder of Neighbors Helping Neighbors.


Lynn Flickinger said it was COVID that did in the Souper Supper after 22 years of serving meals twice weekly.

“We decided there was no way could we do it the way we used to,” she said.

Souper Supper was founded in December 1997 by Margie Hill and friends from various churches who wanted to address the problem of hunger in the community in the days before the Hunger Coalition had been formed. The first night’s dinner was spaghetti, chicken noodle soup, salad and bread pudding.

Volunteers had served more than 75,000 meals by the time of Souper Supper’s 20th anniversary in 2017. They have come from a variety of churches, including the Episcopal, LDS, Catholic, Calvary Baptist and Jewish, as well as Scouts and school groups.

Some volunteers were with Souper Supper for all of its 22 years.

“I’ve sat on a lot of boards and steering committees and I’ve never sat on one that was so together in everything we did. We always had a consensus. We never argued about a thing,” said Flickinger.

The Wood River Orchestra got its start playing at Souper Supper dinners. Over the years kids sang Christmas carols for diners. Volunteers made placemats reflecting the different seasons. And the Wood River Jewish Community always put on a spectacular Christmas dinner, handing out gift bags filled with small bottles of shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, coffee, razors and other items that Penny Leopold and her daughter Sydney collected from hotels during their travels.

“I’ll never forget how gracious and grateful our guests were—it was lovely,” Flickinger said. “We will be forever grateful to St. Charles Catholic Church for letting us use the kitchen and hall for all those years. They with our volunteers made it all possible.”

Volunteers with St. Thomas Episcopal Church, meanwhile, have taken over the Ketchum Community Supper duties, providing takeout meals from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday evenings from their parking lot on Sun Valley Road in Ketchum.


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