Sun to Soup projects helps soup cafe feed more people

Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 3:39 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2023 at 8:27 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Heaven’s Helpers Soup Café can now provide more for the Bismarck community, thanks to an electricity bill-cutting project.

These solar panels are doing more than just providing energy to Heaven’s Helpers Soup Café, they are also feeding more people.

Heaven’s Helpers is looking on the sunny side when it comes to providing food for the hungry.

“We’ve always wanted to have solar on our building. They had a committee that wanted to put solar on one of the local nonprofits. So it was a good match,” said Heaven’s Helpers Soup Café founder Mark Meier.

These solar panels were a Bismarck Mandan Chamber’s EDC leadership group project. Members thought solar energy could be turned into more soup.

“So that was kind of our tagline. Sun to soup,” said group member Teresa Chrest.

The panels will cut electric bills for the cafe. But there remained the question of how to put that extra money to good use.

“And their question was how many more mouths can we feed,” said Lightspring co-owner James Kambeitz.

The organization’s electric bill will now be sliced by roughly $500 a month. This means back down in the kitchen, volunteers can feed an additional 160 people.

“Seeing all the people that come into the soup cafe and knowing that even more people can be fed, it’s really inspiring,” said Kambeitz.

The leadership group raised $80,000 for the solar panels from community donors and grants. Lightspring offered to do the installation, and Meier was happy it would do more than help feed people.

“Not only can we save money but we can be more environmentally conscious. That’s what we’re all about - reusing food that normally goes to waste, and we give our excessive food that we can’t use to a farmer, who give it to his cows. We recycle so it’s really a good thing all around,” said Meier.

It took about a year and a half to get the project from paper to the installation of 76 solar panels on the roof.