Hiram College

For 30 years, Hiram students, faculty, staff and community members have come together over a simple meal of bread and soup to give back to the community.

The 2012 spring semester marks 30 years since the late Rev. Thomas Niccolls, former college chaplain, helped students start the Bread and Soup tradition. The program allows students to elect to eat a simple meal of bread and soup in Dix Dining Hall in place of the normal entree at the main Dining Hall. Because the bread and soup costs less to prepare than typical meals, $1 is donated back to local charities and nonprofits.

In 1981, the idea initially began after an informal student discussion of hunger and the urge to do something about it. According to a Record-Courier dated March 12, 1983, the students were met with “a little skepticism” about using the dining room for their project. But after collecting 250 signatures, the Bread and Soup program began in the winter quarter of 1982.

That first semester saw $2,000 collected and donated to OXFAM America to provide relief and food in the Horn of Africa, which was devastated by war between Ethiopia and Somalia. Since then, the program has donated the money raised to a number of charities, recently the Hiram Farm Living and Learning Community, the Salvation Army’s Northeast Portage Food Shelf and the Crestwood Coalition for Community Care.

And the interest has continued throughout the years.

“Consistently, (students, faculty, staff and community members) have come together,” said Jason Bricker-Thompson, director of the Office of Civic Engagement, which coordinates the event that now happens every Thursday of the Spring 12-Week. “It’s an easy way to be supportive of those in need.”

Bricker-Thompson said many faculty and community members have attended the weekly dinners for the whole 30 years; he remembers attending them himself as a student in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Rev. Niccolls died two years ago in January 2010, but Bricker-Thompson said it is great that this tradition has lived on.

“It’s kind of neat to see some of those things that started in the late 70s and early 80s have stood the test of time,” he said.

Photo originally appeared in the Record-Courier on March 12, 1983.

We asked our Facebook fans what they remember about Bread and Soup nights. Here are a few responses:

“I have many fond memories of the Bread and Soup nights at Dix in the mid- to late 80s… becoming more globally aware, signing Amnesty petitions, scaring my mom into thinking I was going to be put on some government list somewhere!!”
– Grant Wanner ’89

“I actually have a pot of Spicy Lentil on the stove today! Thanks to my Hiram experience, I make bread and soup once a week for dinner through the fall and winter.”
– Jennifer Hawk Frederick ’95

“As a freshman, the young man who fancied me signed on for bread and soup in order to woo me. The next year, when I was his steady girlfriend and he could finally admit that he loved me and NOT bread and soup, we ate separately on bread and soup nights. I married him just the same. I loved bread and soup so much as an undergrad, that we frequently have bread and soup in the winter in our house even today. He tolerates it.”
– Mary Kay Prusnick ’93

“I can remember attending Bread and Soup even before I was a student at Hiram! We found out about it during a campus visit and my mom was so smitten with the idea that we attended several times during my senior year of high school!”
– Mandy McKinnon ’97

“I used to work Bread and Soup! I loved it-but what I remember most is the smell of all the fresh bread-and slicing it all. And keeping people off of the pop machines.”
– Dena Jo Pavlovic ’03

“I was part of the group that helped make the decision to do the Bread and Soup project. Tom Niccolls was the chaplain and he created a group that looked at incorporating peace in our own lives and in the world around us … We also had a “Potty Press” which we hung up in the dorm restrooms that talked about peace creating activities and gave the bread and soup menu for the week. I always enjoyed bread and soup night because the bread and soup were outstanding and it was wonderful to gather with folks who were as interested in social justice projects as I was. I’m very glad that the tradition continues!”
– Joy Omslaer ’86

Join us this year:

>> Bread and Soup nights will take place on Thursdays from 5-7 p.m. in Dix Dining Hall, starting Jan. 12.

Students on a meal plan can use a meal swipe, and donations will be automatically deducted. Cost is $5 for adults and $2.50 for 12 and under. $1 per person will be donated to charity.

Thursday’s menu consists of:

  • Cream of Potato
  • Chili
  • Mediterranean Vegetable
  • Whole Fruit
  • Assorted Bread