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Fundraisers for military vets feature soups, hot dishes

Free Press - 1/24/2024

Jan. 24—MANKATO — Eating hearty soups and hot dishes is one way Minnesotans fuel their bodies during chilly winters. Locals have a chance to sample several of those go-to comfort foods during two Mankato fundraisers supporting military veterans' programs.

—Disabled American Veterans of Minnesota's programs for women veterans will benefit from an inaugural hot dish competition 1-4 p.m.Feb. 3 at at Morson-Ario-Strand VFW Post 950, 1900 N. Riverfront Drive.

"We do a lot of stuff with the DAV," said Alpha Media Mankato's Jeff Spence.

Navy veteran and hospital service coordinator for the DAV's southeastern transportation office, Kati Carpenter, has been collecting silent auction items for the event slated 1-4 p.m.Feb. 3.

The DAV's programs dedicated to women vets are fairly new but much needed, said Carpenter. In recent decades the numbers of women in the military has increased. Also rising are the suicide and homelessness numbers for women veterans.

"They are coming out (of the service) without knowing about the services that are available to help. We bring the resources to them," said Carpenter, who will be back in Mankato for the Feb. 3 event.

"The festival will be the first-ever fundraiser for the program I attend," she said.

Goulash entries will be accepted in the contest. "Casserole" is not the word to use for a submission of creative one-dish concoctions that should include at least one canned vegetable, a binding agent such as creamed mushroom soup and some type of protein, for example, canned tuna.

"Hot dish" is a Mankato thing, Spence said.

"This is where the word "hot dish" first showed up in a cookbook," he said, referring to a 1930 collection of recipes gathered by members of Grace Lutheran's Ladies Aid.

Kris and the Riverbend Dutchmen will provide music for the festival. Expect lots of polka music to go with your meal.

Band leader Kris Kjelten said his members play lots of the standards and sometimes, their original tunes.

"We haven't written one about hot dishes yet, maybe we should," he joked.

The fee is $30 to enter a 9x13 pan of hot dish in the contest.

—Mankato Elks Lodge 225 is planning a soup cookoff Saturday, as a fundraiser for its projects that assist at-risk and underserved veterans. The 11th annual Soups for the Troops is slated 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at The Loose Moose, 119 S. Front St.

Several soup varieties will be on hand for the public to sample. The cost is $15 and a silent auction is planned during the event. A local Marine Corps color guard will present a ceremony during the event.

Carie Becker said some of the proceeds will be used to create "welcome home" kits for veterans who have experienced homelessness. Items valued at $300 in total are gathered for the kits.

"They have everything they need to set up in their new place," she said.

Becker credits her Soups for the Troops co-chair, Todd Tanhoff, with coming up with the idea for the benefit 11 years ago.

"Its (popularity) has really gained traction over the years. Last year was our biggest ever."

Other Elks chapters in the state are considering having their own versions of Soups for the Troops, Becker said.

Attendees at Saturday's cook off will have chances to vote for their favorite.

Several entry forms have been received. Submissions include some chicken-wild rice soups and a variety that's not familar to Becker.

"Beet soup. I will have to keep my mind open and try that one," she said.

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