Toronto resident Oliver O'Brien truly believes in the good work that the Parkdale food bank does, and he's putting his stomach on the line to prove it.
O'Brien is partnering with the Parkdale Community Food Bank to raise $10,000 and support an essential service through the pandemic.
And if the money is raised, O'Brien will eat a 14-year-old can of soup that was donated to the food bank.
Why is O'Brien eating old soup?
O'Brien, a guitarist with the local band Body DBL, was flicking through Instagram on November 18 when he saw the Parkdale Community Food Bank post a photo of a donated soup can (chicken with egg noodles) that had expired in 2006.
O'Brien replied — "impulsively," he says — and said that if supporters of the food bank raised $10,000 then he would eat the soup.
Within seconds, the food bank replied: "Ok done."
Kitty Raman-Costa, the Operations Manager at the food bank, says she hopes the stunt will help people think about the kind of food they're donating.
If it's not good enough for them to eat, Raman-Costa says, it won't be good enough for the food bank's clients.
Will O'Brien get sick after eating decade-old soup?
Narcity asked O'Brien the same question: isn't he worried about getting properly sick from eating a can of soup that expired when Paul Martin was Prime Minister of Canada?
"Aren’t we all currently worried we’ll get properly sick?" he says.
He also told Narcity that he's been training for the eventuality by bathing in butternut squash, eating clam chowder at 4 a.m. and doing bicep curls with cans of Campbell's soup.
"If nothing, I’ve learned that soup is a timeless, ancient entity — unwilling to age, unwilling to conform to our food standards," O'Brien says.
How can people donate?
The Parkdale Community Food Bank has set up a donation page where people can comment "old soup" or "save Oliver" depending on if they want him to actually eat the old soup or not.
They will be accepting money until November 25.
People can also donate to the food bank's ongoing Toy Drive, which starts on November 23 and runs until December 13.
O'Brien says that donating cash is always a safe bet for food banks, as it can help with wages, diverse food options and operation costs.
What does the money go towards?
The Parkdale Community Food Bank is almost completely funded by donations, and the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on the operation.
Raman-Costa says that they've seen a large rise in the number of people who use the food bank's services since March 2020.
The food bank serves approximately 3000 people a month now (up from 2000 a month pre-pandemic), and Raman-Costa expects that number to grow during the lockdown.
While both O'Brien and Raman-Costa recognize that while the soup-eating is silly, the cause behind it is seriously important.
"Their clients deserve quality food as much as you and I, especially since this cold winter month is about to be much colder in lockdown," says O'Brien.