The truth is, some Laramie residents don’t have a consistent source of food and need some help. The Laramie Soup Kitchen is battling the fight for hunger, and some University of Wyoming students are helping without stepping into the kitchen.

Marketing students in the UW College of Business presented their proposals to soup kitchen board members and employees.

“We’ve worked all semester on this project,” student Abigail Martin said.

This capstone project is about the closest the students will get professional work before going into the workforce, Assistant Professor Elizabeth Minton said.

“Some of them have put a ton of time into it,” she said. “This is exactly like when you give a pitch to a company and try to sell an idea.”

Anything from a renewed logo to a renovated dining area were suggested as new ways to increase the soup kitchen’s visibility in the community.

Some suggestions are already being implemented, said Ted Cramer, Laramie Soup Kitchen executive director, such as one group’s idea of transferring information through the food itself.

“Their recommendation is, when we have certain items that go out, that we would re-label certain things with one that talks about our services,” he said. “That way, if someone comes to pick up things for other friends who are homebound or unable to get to the soup kitchen or people who haven’t even heard of the soup kitchen. The idea is that having our information on this bag allows us to spread the word and awareness.”

Each of the six groups had about 10 minutes to pitch their various ideas, and Cramer said every one had a viable option.

“I think every group had at least one good idea,” he said. “The benefit to us is, we can look at the presentations as a whole and pick and choose the best parts of the different ideas.”

Bill Shepeler, vice president of the Laramie Soup Kitchen Board of Directors, said several smaller ideas can also be easily implemented.

“Some minor things, like having fliers with tear tabs or magnets with messages on trash receptacles, were made sense to us,” he said.

Some ideas for the summer months when K-12 schools are out could also benefit the soup kitchen, Shepeler said.

“Some food choices targeted towards children are something we could do,” he said. “When kids are in school, they have access to lunch and breakfast. But in the summer, they don’t, so if we can help kids from being put in a position of hunger — that’s valuable.”

Almost every group also addressed the idea of increased volunteer efforts — ways to bring more people to help at the kitchen. However, Cramer said a few were focusing efforts at the university and not the community.

“We are connecting very well with university students,” he said. “But when it lets out next week and the students go home for the summer, where are we going to get volunteers? We should be reaching out to the community.”

Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Carroll also had a criticism of the groups: money.

“The assumption is we have more to work with than we actually do,” she said. “A lot of our donations are food.”

Laramie Soup Kitchen employees aren’t the only ones benefiting from the presentations. Shepeler said he was treating the students as if they were marketing agency.

“You don’t want to pat them on the head and say, ‘Great job, kids.’” He said. “In the next couple of years, they’re going to have to do something revenue-generating, so I think it’s important to engage them that way. I hope we provided good feedback.”

Minton said this was the best thing the panel could have done.

“I noticed there were some comments that were challenging for the students,” she said. “They were treated just like they were an agency.”

In the end, all presentations were helping the Laramie Soup Kitchen perform its mission of eliminating hunger.

“We’re looking to grow and make sure we’re meeting the demand for serving the hungry in Laramie,” he said. “Anyone looking to join us in that mission, we’d love to talk with them.”

Go to www.laramiesoupkitchen.com or call 460-1605 to volunteer or for more information.

Soup kitchen gets an upgrade

The Laramie Soup Kitchen also got an upgrade — two new stove and oven units were installed last week, said Ted Cramer, Laramie Soup Kitchen executive director.

“We just installed the new gas stoves,” he said. “It means we can increase our capacity for our food. We can also cook faster and more easily prepare quality food — the soup kitchen strives to make restaurant-quality food, and the gas burners put us closer to that goal.”

The previous electric stoves were starting to fail, requiring the speedy replacement.

The Laramie Junior High School Connections and Partners Mentoring Program raised more than $750 for one of the units, Cramer said.

“That’s almost 70 percent of the first stove,” he said. “That means our money can go so much farther.”

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