Filling Toledo’s bowl

. October 22, 2014.

It is evident that Toledoans love food. And there’s no doubt that Toledoans have a wealth of community-oriented entrepreneurs. So when these two factors merge at Toledo SOUP, it makes a perfect recipe. 

This grassroots effort funds local initiatives, businesses, organizations and artists through micro-grants; it’s a platform for Toledo entrepreneurs and community organizers to share their passions and express their needs to make their vision come to life in the city they love.

The SOUP formula

Toledoans who have an idea for a new business, or artists and activists who need financial backing for a worthy cause, are encouraged to submit a proposal through Toledo SOUP’s website. A guest panel of local judges, such as councilmembers and business leaders, choose three proposals to be presented at the next event. 

At every SOUP, attendees pay five dollars at the door to mingle with fellow community members while eating—that’s right—soup. A Q&A follows each proposal, providing an opportunity for listeners to ask their questions directly to the creator of the idea.  Attendees cast votes, and the pot of money collected during the evening goes to the winning proposal. 

“I love that Toledo is so willing to try new things,” said Taylor Dungjen, Toledo SOUP committee member and crime reporter for the Toledo Blade. “The spirit, willing to be creative and adventurous, is so alive in this city.” 

Even if presenters don’t win, they gain an open audience where the ideas can be critiqued. “We’re building ties that wouldn’t exist otherwise,” said Eric Britton, Toledo SOUP committee member and partner at local law firm Schumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP. “That’s the kind of connection you can’t make with Kickstarter.”  

Of course, the soup is another reason to attend Toledo SOUP. Toledo chefs Andrew Ruiz of the Toledo Museum of Art, Aaron Hensley of the Bier Stube’s House of Eats and Sarah and Ben Cohen of Badger Brunch at Black Kite Coffee provided food at the summer SOUP event. On October 26, the theme will be “Spooky SOUP,” and Halloween surprises await. 

Funding Toledo’s ideas

Seeing firsthand the immediate success of these micro-grants really makes Toledo SOUP singular. For the FDCA Late Night Basketball program, winning the Summer Luau money pot this past June meant that they could keep their lights on, giving Toledo’s youth a place to go and stay off the streets. 

“I have a lot of reverence for the word ‘community’ . . . this idea that people just take charge of the place that they live is inspiring,” said Ryan Bunch, Toledo SOUP committee member and Performing and Literary Arts Coordinator at The Arts Commission.

Attendees can expect a raffle, a Halloween costume contest, and all-you-can-eat soup from some of the best chefs in the city. Entry information for the spring event will be announced in January. 

Toledo SOUP’s next event will be from
4:30-7:30pm on Sunday, October 26 at
1717 Adams Street, future site of Handmade Toledo. Have an idea to better Toledo? Send your proposal and find out more about Toledo SOUP on their website at