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Having Fun While Raising Funds at Pennsylvania Hospital’s First “Souper Bowl”

It’s that time of year again. All across the U.S. folks will gather together on Sunday, not to worship, but to watch the 47th Super Bowl and – thanks to an increasing popularity due to “cute overload” – Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl 9. Some even started the festivities early here in Philly at today’s Wing Bowl 21. While millions will scarf down junk food and alcohol in mass quantities this weekend, folks at the Joan Karnell Cancer Center (JKCC) at Pennsylvania Hospital celebrated earlier in the week with much healthier food choices at its first ever “Souper Bowl.”


Relay for Life Walk Chair, Michelle Rumbaugh and cancer survivor and JKCC volunteer Pam Barr are shown here setting up for the Center’s first Souper Bowl.

Held January 29, the JKCC decided to host the Souper Bowl to help support their inaugural team participating in the annual American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Each year, over four million people from over 20 countries partake in the global community walk to raise much-needed funds and awareness to save lives from cancer. During a Relay event, participants and cancer survivors celebrate what they’ve overcome and run a victory “Survivors Lap.” This year’s Relay for Life of South Philadelphia will be held Saturday, May 19, at Marconi Plaza, on Broad Street, between Oregon and Packer Avenues,

“The Souper Bowl was a pilot event,” said Marylou Osterman, JKCC coordinator. “We wanted to come up with a fun and creative new way to raise funds and support our team.” They succeeded. In only two hours, the Souper Bowl raised almost $500 - 50 percent of the JKCC team goal of $1,000.

The Souper Bowl was a team effort across the board. Staff chipped to cook up five different kinds of homemade soups, cornbread and desserts. Guests were also treated to a soup toppings bar and all the buttered rolls they could eat. Bowls and flatware were donated to the event by the Department of Food and Nutrition at Pennsylvania Hospital.

“It was nice to take time away from our busy schedules, spend some time with colleagues, friends and former patients and contribute to a great cause – all at the same time,” said Alan L. Schuricht, MD, FACS, clinical professor of Surgery. “The soups were great but the company was better.”

To help supplement supplies (and make sure there was plenty to go around) the JKCC purchased ten additional quarts of soup from MANNA. Formally, the Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance, MANNA prepares and delivers nourishing meals to individuals in Philadelphia who are at acute nutritional risk and battling life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, renal disease and HIV/AIDS. Between MANNA and staff contributions, approximately 75 supporters, for only a five dollar donation each, were able to enjoy a creamy corn chowder, holiday bean soup with ham, chili con carne, Italian escarole soup with little meatballs, or a curried cauliflower soup. Proceeds to MANNA from the JKCC helped to provide a balanced, nutritious meal for 50 people.

“It was great to break away from my desk and attend the Souper Bowl party. I had a great time hanging out with coworkers and meeting people from other departments. The food was fantastic, especially the Turkey Chili with all the toppings,” said Cynthia J. Briola, RN, OCN, CBCN, Cyberknife Program Coordinator.

Well, it looks as if all those books were right:  chicken soup – or any soup for that matter – is indeed good for the soul.

Want to learn more about nutrition and the healing power of foods? Visit the JKCC’s Cancer Fighting Cupboard on Penn Medicine’s Focus on Cancer blog which provides nutrition news, information and tips and healthy recipes. 

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