Why FareShare’s soup is more than a meal for these Vinnies regulars

Every Sunday, the St. Vincent de Paul (Vinnies) van pulls up on a quiet Maribyrnong side street at 3pm to hand out FareShare meals and soup along with other foodstuffs, clothing and sanitary items to people who are struggling. Except this time is a little different. 

Only a week prior, this whole neighbourhood in Melbourne’s west was underwater, severely flood-affected when the Maribyrnong River burst its banks.  

The smell of boggy, caking mud and piles of debris are sobering reminders of the floods, which wash away people’s treasured belongings, and the memories that accompany them. 

Julie, the Sunday Vinnies soup van coordinator, tells locals who may not know about the van or normally require assistance that there’s hot FareShare soup and other support just a short walk away.

Back at the soup van, locals Harry, Frank and Mick are milling around having a friendly chat with the volunteers and each other. Among a whole raft of topics, they firmly agree on one thing: the quality and nutritional value of FareShare’s soups. 

An example of the debris lining the curbs in Maribyrnong.

Your soups are honestly the best I’ve ever had! You can taste the freshness, the goodness. The chunky vegetable one…just divine...

Harry (and his dog Fifi), Frank and Mick have a friendly chat with Vinnies volunteers Teresa and Loretta, FareShare's Sam, and Vinnies coordinator Julie.

“Oh my gosh,” Mick eulogises. “Your soups are honestly the best I’ve ever had! You can taste the freshness, the goodness. The chunky vegetable one…just divine…you don’t normally find this quality of food being given out.” 

“I loved the dark coloured one we had a while back,” Frank interjects. “What was it? … Oh yeah, the cream of mushroom.”

“And there’s been a delicious pea and ham one, a pumpkin one…” Mick adds.

“The minestrone, don’t forget the minestrone,” Harry chimes in. “And it’s not just during winter either. I find your soups so calming in summer too.”

“Just tell your chefs they’re doing an amazing job,” Mick says. “Tell them to come down here so we can thank them personally for everything they do.”

The van has long since departed by the time Harry, Frank and Mick finish their soup and wander off. Once again, FareShare’s soup has provided them with not only a hearty meal but the intangible benefit of community too: for over an hour, they’ve exchanged plenty of stories and laughs while enjoying it.

Whether it’s helping people affected by floods or the regular folks who stop by Vinnies’ vans, FareShare soups and meals are there for people who need them.

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