This article first appeared in J. The Jewish News of Northern California on August 16, 2023.
Last month, I joined friends and other volunteers to chop vegetables and prepare soup at Repair the World Bay Area’s service to support the “Wednesday Souper Saucers” program. Each week, the mutual aid group prepares 150 to 450 servings of soup to distribute to unhoused neighbors.
The produce and perishable foods are largely recovered from sources where the food would otherwise go to waste, such as grocery stores, but that day the main source had a plumbing issue and was unable to deliver. The mutual aid network at the heart of the endeavor — everyday people coming together to help meet others’ needs with the shared understanding that the systems we live in are insufficient — jumped into action. We started calling and texting folks and pulling threads to recover enough produce to be able to make the food.
My colleague Lauren Halperin shared that she had called a few of Repair the World’s other local service partners, and finally enough food was gathered.
When we arrived at Urban Adamah, the kitchen space in Berkeley that is used for the Souper Saucers program on Wednesdays, we first unloaded the food and supplies onto giant pallets. As volunteers joined, Lauren shared about the month of Av, the current Hebrew month. The day was Tisha B’Av, which is considered the saddest day on the Hebrew calendar, when we mourn the destruction of the temples in Jerusalem and grieve the brokenness in our world.