OGDEN -- When Layton resident Cindy Fernau goes to the Genesis Project church to serve in its food pantry line each Wednesday, she's not handing out supplies from the Utah Food Bank.
Instead, she gives each person in need a bag of her frozen homemade soup for each member of his or her family.
"God told us to do this," she said of herself and her husband, Tim. "He put it on our hearts that people needed help. They needed to be fed."
Last April, the Fernaus started a nonprofit agency called Love Soup that allows her and some volunteers to make the soup three days a week at the Christian Life Center in Layton.
"There's not a whole lot of need in Layton, but there is here," she said of the Ogden church at 270 12th St., where she takes her soup each week.
This week's offering featured a soup made from boneless, skinless chicken breasts, brown rice, celery and red peppers. She handed out 275 bags of the soup.
While she was doing that, two volunteers served bowls of hot potato soup and fresh rolls Fernau and a couple of volunteers had made just that day. This week, the effort brought nearly 100 bowls of soup to those who were there to pick up food bank items.
"We are averaging around 1,300 meals a month" with the hot and frozen soups, Fernau said.
She said she can make the soup for about 50 cents to $1 per meal.
The nonprofit agency relies on about $800 a month in donations from members of her church, acquaintances and neighbors to keep the effort going.
Fernau also relies on some area stores that sell her certain ingredients at cost, and she watches out for sales as she circulates each week among about seven stores.
"She has an absolute brilliant idea with the soup," said Lori Brower, one of Fernau's neighbors in Layton.
Brower was serving potato soup for Fernau on Wednesday.
"It's hearty, it's healthy, and it works," Brower said.
The neighbor said she believes Fernau was being guided to perform this service each week.
"She's responding to her promptings," Brower said.
Anna Whitlock is a West Point resident who gives financial support to Love Soup and who was helping serve the soup Wednesday.
Whitlock said she likes that the soup is distributed in Ogden, where there is more need.
"You don't ever know anybody's story," she said. "I just love that I can do something to give back."
Whitlock said she admires Fernau for her support of people in need.
But Fernau said her efforts are the least she and her volunteers can do.
She was emotional Wednesday after hearing a story of a man and wife who were living in a tent and had run out of propane during the recent cold weather.
"Here I am, sitting in my house with a furnace, and there is a family out there living in a tent," she said Wednesday. "I don't think I will sleep all night knowing that."
Fernau also told of other stories she has heard while handing out her soup -- of a family of five living in a garage and of a man living in his car.
"We offer a nutritious, delicious, homemade meal from the heart," Fernau said. "We can't change their life, but we can make sure they have a good, hearty meal, and that's what we are doing."
Eventually, Fernau said, she would like to take her efforts into Ogden by opening a fully operational soup kitchen for those who wish to receive a free meal.
"We want a building in the poorest part of Ogden and be able to have a soup kitchen and feed them every day," she said. "We can only do what we can do right now."
Those who would like to learn more about Love Soup or to donate to the cause may visit lovesoup.net.
Fernau said all donations are tax deductible. PayPal payments are available on the site.
Those wishing to mail a donation may send the tax-deductible payment to P.O. Box 1465, Layton, UT 84041.