When a man came to Spencer's Restaurant a few months ago asking for some soup, Linda Spencer gave him a quart to take home - no questions asked. The man immediately began to cry.
When a man came to Spencer's Restaurant a few months ago asking for some soup, Linda Spencer gave him a quart to take home - no questions asked. The man immediately began to cry. “I hugged him and I said, 'I'm so sorry, dear. Did you get bad news?' and he said, 'No, but I bring my wife to Corning once a week for treatment and I always come by and get my soup. It's the one night of the whole week I don't have to cook and it's such a relief to me,'” recalled Spencer. “That just warmed my heart.” Spencer, along with her husband John, owns Spencer's Restaurant on Market Street Extension in Corning. For the past 10 years, the restaurant has been giving out free soup to cancer patients enduring chemotherapy. “We just wanted to help people,” Spencer said. “Often when people are undergoing chemo or radiation, they lose their appetite and nothing sounds good; but soup always sounds good.” The restaurant, which prides itself on its homemade soups, has been in business for 23 years and gives the soup away at its own expense, no doctor's note necessary. There is, however, one issue regarding their soup donations, Spencer says: With only about 10 people per week benefiting from the offering, the restaurant isn't giving away enough free soup. “I don't think enough people know about it,” Spencer said. “We want to give away a lot of soup.” Getting the soup is easy: Any person receiving cancer treatment can walk into the restaurant and ask for a free quart of soup - a choice of clear broth or cream-based - and then leave with soup in hand. “I think it's so unusual that people think there's going to be a catch somewhere,” Spencer said. “They don't really warm up to the idea because they wonder, 'Who would do that?'” Mary Faulisi, a patient care coordinator at Corning's Guthrie Cancer Center, commended the restaurant for its caring gesture, calling it a boost to a cancer patient's emotional and physical health. “It's an emotional comfort for them and it does help them that they don't have to go home and prepare a meal,” Faulisi said. “And when they do eat, it is helpful; any nutrition value is going to benefit them.” As a Rotarian, Spencer says she lives by the Rotary's motto, “Service above self,” and she says giving away soup gives her great joy. “It's for selfish reasons, really; it just makes us feel good,” Spencer said. “We've never turned anybody away that was hungry and now we're just looking for people who need help.”