20171006dj soup for the soul 1
Amber and Greg Schall, owners of Gigi's Sweet Shop Cafe in Franklin, have started a program called Soup for the Soul at their eatery. People in need are able to come to the restaurant for a free cup of soup if they are in need of food or help.

Every detail inside of Gigi’s Sugar Shack Cafe is designed to make people feel at home.

Fresh flower bouquets dot the tables, which look like they were lifted straight out of a country kitchen. Whimsical wall hangings let people know that “You Are My Sunshine” and that “Life is Better with Cake.”

And just like going home, owners Amber and Greg Schall want to create a place where people always feel welcome, no matter the troubles they face.

The cafe is hoping to help the hungry, one serving of soup at a time. The Schalls created Soup for the Soul, a program that provides food for those in need at no charge.

People can come in and request a cup of broccoli cheddar, tomato basil or ham and bean — something to help those in the community who might be struggling to ward off hunger.

“I don’t know if we have the funds do it, but it seems like the community is coming around. Even if it’s a cup of soup, something for people,” Amber Schall said.

Gigi’s Cafe offers breakfast and lunch throughout the day, in addition to its selection of pies, cakes and other desserts.

The idea evolved as the Schalls encountered people who came to the cafe, scrounging for coins and dollar bills for anything they could afford to eat.

Homeless youths in particular would often stop into the shop. Some would come by at the end of the day asking for anything that they were going to throw out, just to have something in their stomachs.

“They weren’t taking advantage of it, because I’d only see them every few weeks. But you could tell he really needed it,” Greg Schall said.

The solution was to start offering soup for those who come in and need a meal — not just the homeless, but people living on a fixed income or paycheck to paycheck. Maybe they had to pay a bill instead of buying food at the store, or are going through a stretch of unemployment and don’t have enough to support their families, Amber Heard said.

The Schalls have six children themselves, and they understand how difficult it is when money is tight.

“We’ve been there. We can relate, so that’s why we wanted to help,” Amber Schall said.

The offer of Soup for the Soul is available every day. They also try to add cornbread or some other side to the soup, as much as they can, Amber Schall said.

Customers can donate specifically to the Soup for the Soul cause. At the bottom of each receipt is a link they can follow to make a contribution.

Many people also round up their bills, with the remainder going toward the hunger effort.

“Anything extra people want to give, we appreciate it,” Amber Schall said. “Just being a customer is the best way to help us do this.”

Right now, the biggest challenge the eatery is facing is that people don’t know about it. They want to help as many in the community as they can, so spreading the word is their goal, Amber Schall said.

“As much as people can know about this, that’s what we want,” she said.

How to Help

Gigi’s Sugar Shack Cafe in Franklin started its Soup for the Soul program to offer soup to those in need for no cost.

People can make donations to support the program at squareup.com/store/gigis-sugar-shack.

For more information, go to gigissugarshack.com or facebook.com/gigissugarshack.

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.