What image pops into your head when you hear those words?
A raggle-taggle group of whey-faced, shoeless Victorian children, holding out wooden bowls?
Or the Great Depression of the 1930s when long lines of undernourished men and women in threadbare clothes, waited in the freezing cold for a free hot meal?
Soup kitchens are consigned to history, along with rickets, scurvy and Betamax videos. Right? Wrong!
In poor, inner-city areas they’ve never gone away. Due to recent events, including the financial crisis of 2007/8, they’ve spread . . . even to Llanelli.
Every Sunday evening, the Sosban Soup Kitchen in Old Castle Road supplies poor, hungry people with a free hot meal.
Run by Gary Glenister and his team of volunteers, it relies on soup and bread generously donated by local companies and people in the community.
If I wore a hat, I’d take it off to all of them. But here’s what I can’t get my head around.
On the one hand, we have soup kitchens providing free food for people in dire financial need. On the other, it seems every week a new restaurant, ice-cream parlour or burger joint opens in Swansea.
Walk down any street and you’ll soon see we have a massive obesity epidemic.
Yes, I realise some unfortunate people are the size of Lundy due to a medical condition, but most people become obese because they love food, have dozens of eateries to choose from and, crucially, have the disposable income to spend in them.
Whether they’re familiar with the words ‘will power’ is not for me to ask. So, I won’t.
But, in between scoffing pizza and burgers, wouldn’t it be great if every one of them occasionally donated a tin of soup to the Sosban Soup Kitchen?
And, whatever the size of your waistline, maybe you could too . . .