Susan King, left, and Danielle Sawada show off some of the 100 handmade bowls that will be available during this year’s Bowls for Balance at SOUP Café. The fundraiser will be held May 23 and 24 at the café on Prince Street. Raissa Tetanish – Hub

TRURO – A popular event featuring homemade soup combined with pottery is making its way back to Truro.

The fifth annual Bowls for Balance is set for May 23 and 24, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., at SOUP Café.

“We’ve sold out every year, except for last year because we had 150 bowls,” said Danielle Sawada, who started the event in Truro in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association Colchester-East Hants Branch. “We’ll have 100 bowls over the two days. We have sold more, but we’ve found this is a manageable size.”
Over those two days, SOUP Café (SOUP stands for Supported Opportunities for Unemployed Persons) usually sees a line-up of customers, each eager to get their hands on a handmade bowl and homemade soup. Each bowl is different from potters throughout the province.

“Probably 30 bowls are mine, and the others are from across the province,” said Sawada, who owns Thrown Together Pottery in Truro. “I mentioned it at our annual general meeting and people brought bowls there. Some are from students or former students.”
Sawada had known the event had been done in larger areas, such as Toronto and Montreal, and wanted to bring it to Truro. Regulations and rules surrounding food preparation, however, were an issue. That’s when she teamed up with SOUP Café.

“For us, this brings about awareness,” said Susan King, of SOUP Café. “It gives people a chance to get something to eat, and that’s when they realize what the program is. We’re very much open to everybody and you’re not going to know who is staff and who isn’t. It reduces the stigma that way.”

SOUP Café gives participants and volunteers support and training in a real restaurant setting. King says they see about 13 to 15 participants throughout the week. Some will spend an hour working in the café, while others could stay five or six hours.

“It depends where they’re at in their wellness, and what’s good for them,” she said. “Some take some time off for employment or to go to school, and we always allow them to take that time off and come back.”

During Bowls for Balance, $25 gets visitors their choice of handmade bowl, as well as a soup and drink. For those who don’t want to eat that day, they can get a voucher for a bowl of soup to be used at their convenience. Vegan and vegetarian options are available, and those searching for a Mother’s Day gift, gift certificates are available that can be used at the event.

Starting the week before the event, the bowls will be on display so people can drop by to find their favourites as they are based on a first come, first served basis.

Being a potter, Sawada knows how beneficial the art form is for one’s mental wellbeing.

“I’ve had people that have been doctor-ordered to take pottery classes,” she said. “I’ve had one lady who paid for classes twice a week because it was cheaper than a therapist. When you’re working with clay, you can’t think of anything else.”