What Soup, Catholic Schools and Hungry Stomachs Have In Common

by Tonia Borsellino

The 9th annual Souper Fun Sunday event held at St. Francis Catholic Academy on Jan.31 left soup-tasters with satisfied stomachs and even more excitement for the week ahead.
Megan Mitchell, Ken Peng and Emma Meuleman pose for a photo during the Souper Fun Sunday event in Gainesville| Photo by Tonia Borsellino

Megan Mitchell, Ken Peng and Emma Meuleman pose for a photo during the Souper Fun Sunday event at St. Francis Academy in Gainesville.  | Photo by Tonia Borsellino

“I’m a big fan of soup,” said Megan Mitchell, a junior at St. Francis Catholic Academy. More than 25 restaurants served 37 different kind of soup, and Mitchell was one of the many students helping the soup-tasting competition run smoothly.

“This year my mom is the chair,” Mitchell added, “but I’ve been involved for as long as I can remember.” 
Well-known restaurants in Gainesville, like Sabo and The Swamp, lined the walls of the school’s gymnasium, serving more than eight gallons of soup each. Judges including Linda Fuchs, wife of UF President Ken Fuchs, and Ken Peng of Ken Eats Gainesville judged soup in Seafood, Non-Seafood, and Vegetarian categories while the crowd was able to pick their favorite in Best Decorative Table and “People’s Choice” categories.But the soup was only part of the reason why more than 750 people showed up.
“It’s really about a way of supporting education and the school for us,” said Denise Henault, event manager for Chef Brothers Custom Catering. The Catholic-owned company serves many local churches in the area. Five children in Henault’s familyattended and graduated from St. Francis Catholic Academy.

“We’ve seen it grow and added onto  and it’s just a fantastic environment,” Henault explained.
To keep the value of the academy’s education so highly acknowledged, proceeds from the annual Souper Fun Sunday event go toward technology for the students.