Tomato Soup For Dinner

It was a deeply dark and frigid winter’s night, when sitting at my desk in the office I realized I had not eaten dinner. That’s not an unusual occurrence in the newsroom when things get busy and lunches and dinners are forgotten between police scanner happenings and the obit calls.

But this was a late-night shift, and other than the apple in my purse and the pretzels on the obit desk, food was scarce. I just didn’t have time to pack a ham sandwich from the Christmas leftovers. I walked into the workplace lunchroom and looked over the options in the vending machines. Nothing there looked very appealing.

I walked to the window where I could feel the bitter cold without touching the glass. Downtown was unusually empty this particular night. Only the occasional sighting of Moon Dog on his bike and the pacing prostitute at 16th and Market streets disturbed the otherwise vacant street. I assume the biting wind and falling temps kept the usual folks off the street.

The thermometer read 14 degrees. That and darkness negated a walk to the 7-Eleven. And by the time I would get the car from the parking lot across the street, defrost the windows and head to the nearest drive-through joint, my shift would be nearly over.

My blood sugar was now screaming “feed me.” And then I remembered. I had a can of Campbell’s tomato soup in my desk drawer. I opened the drawer and there it sat, waiting until it was needed. I headed to the microwave, mixed half the can with milk and soon a warm cup of soup awaited. A bonus — I found I had also stashed a sleeve of Premium saltines in the same drawer. I was happy and soon was fed to my hunger’s content. A simple can of soup and crackers made the difference. It brought to mind all those cans of soup handed out at Bethlehem Apostolic Temple in North Wheeling and the hundreds of cans of food collected by Wheeling Central students that are now feeding people through Catholic Charities 18th Street Center in East Wheeling. And not to forget all the other food pantries and canned food drives and not-so-silly parking fines forgiven if the scofflaws paid in cans of food for charity.

Most of us take for granted that our pantries will always contain a can of soup or two — and pasta and peaches and all the other packaged foods that make us smile and fill our bellies. Not everyone, however, is so lucky.

Now that Christmas is in the rear-view mirror, it would be most appreciated if the canned food drives continue as winter grabs hold and doesn’t let go until March or so. The soup kitchens and church pantries will be looking for a few miracles to continue to put soup on tables after the glow of the holidays wears off.

Maybe you can find an extra can or two and drop it off at the nearest church or soup kitchen in the coming months. There is no expiration date on giving. Doesn’t a nice bowl of soup sound good about now?

Have a happy and safe 2018.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at