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Fresh Soup For The Soul Delivered To Community
The delivery crew for the ‘Soup Sisters’ effort gathered on Saturday morning along Maxwell Avenue to load up their vehicles and head out on their mission to provide wholesome, homemade soup for local folks in need. Marg Jackson/The Leader

Knowing that senior citizens are among those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of local residents has banded together to help them out.

Calling the organization the ‘Soup Sisters,’ the group is made up primarily of members from the Oakdale Family Church of the Nazarene and their families, working together to help make sure those who are sheltering in place are not forgotten.

Much like the food program being coordinated through the City of Oakdale’s Parks and Recreation Department in cooperation with Stanislaus County, the idea is to keep nutrition in the forefront. The food program out of the local senior center provides five days of food. The ‘Soup Sisters’ now help fill out the week.

“Seniors need to hold in their homes a little bit longer,” explained Stephanie Andrist, who, with her husband Mark, is coordinating the program.

Stephanie said the homemade soup is designed to carry the seniors through the weekend with some nourishment.

“I’ve got big ideas and generous friends,” explained Stephanie. “I said ‘I need some soup sisters’.”

Mark added that, within 18 hours of the idea surfacing, the group was well on its way to having commitments of homemade soup to feed dozens.

The original distribution of soup was made this past Saturday, May 9 and featured more than 40 different recipients, spread across the community. Lentil, Garlic Sausage, Italian, two different kinds of Chicken Noodle and a chili were among the varieties delivered.

The soups were first taken to Mark and Stephane at their home; they were packaged up on Friday night, and delivered on Saturday. Each bag from the ‘Soup Sisters’ included the container of homemade soup and a sleeve of saltine crackers, with more than a dozen boxes donated by the local Grocery Outlet store. Stephanie said owners Gary and Tammy Spencer have been “a huge support to this effort” and Gary has even become a ‘soup sister’ and contributed a homemade soup.

“Is it a big operation? No,” said Stephanie. “But it’s a good thing.”

Having just come through cancer treatment, Stephanie said she has been energized by the new project.

“I have a little purpose and you do better when you focus on someone else,” she said.

It was the outpouring of love and support she received while undergoing cancer treatment that sparked the idea to return it, spreading it to those most in need right now.

“Food is my love language and they began to pour soup on me,” Stephanie said of the church members and friends that provided her with food during treatment. “A lot were from my church, they were thinking of me, the food was nursing my body but it also nursed my soul; it was like a great big hug.”

The soup sisters are now sending those hugs, cradled in a container of soup, out to the community.

Stephanie pointed to the inspiration from her mother, who has always shared food with those in need, and the group has taken it to a level of community service.

“None of this would be possible without the good example of my parents,” Stephanie said of her mom Rosann and dad Darold Stewart.

The plan is to continue delivering the homemade soup each weekend as long as the supply remains steady. Those that are interested in learning more about the effort or getting involved can visit the group’s Facebook page. Go to and click on the ‘About’ to get more information on what items are needed and how you can help.

“Everybody has said it is a good idea, everybody has said ‘yes’ that has heard about it,” Stephanie added of having soup makers crafting the wholesome goodness to share. “I think they just want to be a part of something good.”

Program coordinator Stephanie Andrist, left, goes over the list of deliveries with volunteer Gabby Coffee as the crew gets ready to fan out across Oakdale on Saturday morning. Marg Jackson/The Leader