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Lathrop Rotary, Lions planning Soup Bowl
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LATHROP – This free soup meal, with no strings attached whatsoever, is not a myth, a legend or a fable.

To partake of this soup – or any, if not all, of the half-dozen varieties on tap – you don’t even need to bring any ingredient, or lift a finger to dice an onion, stir the pot, or serve the table. You will be waited on head and foot at no extra charge. No freewill offering asked. And no post-meal cleanup required.

Sounds too good to be true? You’ll just have to find out on Saturday. Just head over to the Lathrop Senior Center at Valverde Park on Saturday between 1 and 3 p.m. for the Community Soup Bowl jointly sponsored by the city’s two active service clubs: the Rotary and the Lions.

“This is not a (club membership) recruitment drive. Just c’mon in, have some soup and enjoy yourself,” said Rotarian Steve Dresser.

You don’t even need to bring your own bread or drink, as some soup bowl events require.

“Just bring a hearty appetite,” Dresser said.

“Basically, it’s a ‘meet and greet people’ event; meet your neighbors and just break bread,” said Lions member Linda Rose who has volunteered to supply two kinds of soup – albondigas, a favorite Mexican meatball stew, and minestrone.

“Even if they don’t need to eat (the soup), they can still come,” added Lions Club member Jerry Rose.

The soup will be cooked by volunteers that include Vada Klingman of the Lathrop Seniors and Ronnie Valverde, a member of the Stockton and Lathrop Lions clubs and the son of the Manuel Valverde in whose memory the community park was named.

The two service clubs are sharing the cost for the complete soup meal, including the bread and the drinks. For dessert, they will be providing cookies. They are also sharing all the serving and the cleanup duties.

The idea for this Community Soup Bowl project had its genesis last year around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“We wanted to do something around Thanksgiving but just couldn’t get it together in time,” Dresser said.

“How it started was Dan Mac Neilage talking about putting on a community dinner,” first for Thanksgiving and then Christmas, Linda Rose explained.

She and Dresser had discussions with Mac Neilage and they decided to get other organizations in the community to get involved in the project.

However, time and other factors conspired to jettison the idea and they all decided to postpone it and do something in January or February instead.

“So the Soup Bowl evolved from there. Steve (Dresser) and Dan (Mac Neilage) have done most of it,” Linda Rose said.

The service clubs are hoping they will be able to continue the soup meal on a regular basis.

“We hope that it grows and that we’ll be able to have a bigger and better one next year,” Linda Rose said.

And if the turnout is such that they will need a larger venue, they could always reserve the Community Center next door, she said.

One thing that is not set in stone is the date for the future soup meals.

“I’m not sure that this particular date is what we’re going to have in the future because it also runs into the (Ripon) Almond Blossom Festival, but (Saturday) is the only one that was available and we took it,” Linda Rose said.

But pursuing the soup meal on a regular basis will not derail the two service clubs’ plans to sponsor a community meal around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, Dresser said emphatically.

In fact, he said, “We’re committed. We are already meeting and planning the Thanksgiving dinner (this  year).”

As for the future soup bowls, “If it works out, we’ll do it on a regular basis – maybe a couple of times or three times a year. We’ll see,” Dresser said.

For further details about Saturday’s soup meal, visit or call Steve Dresser at (209) 982-1798 or Linda Rose at (209) 858 2655.

The Senior Center is located at 15707 Fifth Street in Lathrop’s historic downtown district.