Nonprofit organization LaSoupe, a charity that repurposes rescued food to feed the hungry, has kept restaurant employees working during dicey pandemic times by making them a part of their mission. Now, they're asking for help to keep providing meals beyond the end of this month into spring.
The owners of Dinner to Doorbells bought their meal prep and delivery company right before the pandemic, but the sudden instability wasn't great for the new business. They partnered with LaSoupe to help keep the water boiling.
“We’re connecting the dots between the needs we see in the community,” LaSoupe community kitchen program director Emmy Schroder said.
The partnership made a difference.
“LaSoupe has been a consistent stream of income – it’s really saved us,” Dinner to Doorbells co-owner Alison Crowdus said.
Donated money and CARES Act funding was used to hire Dinners to Doorbells as a community kitchen. In that role – they get paid to rescue food and turn it into meals to feed the hungry.
“Also, just rescuing food is near and dear to my heart,” Dinner to Doorbells co-owner Jennifer Eisenstein said.
The food rescue work of all 18 of LaSoupe’s community kitchens combined accounted for 700,000 servings for the hungry from April 2020 through the end of the year.
The meals are important to the food pantry at Churches Active in Northside (CAIN) where they help feed folks like Eugene Brown.
“It’s a blessing and I’m grateful,” he said. “I’m grateful.”
Many people need what the pantry offers in these tough times – from 2019 to 2020, the average number of visits to each CAIN pantry session – and there are three a week, up from 35 to 80.
“There is nothing more beautiful or human than feeding people and LaSoupe helps us do that,” CAIN food pantry executive director Melissa Meyer said.
The community kitchen program is at a critical point right now, but they want to continue to serve the hungry in the community.
"We are on a crunch right now and looking to raise $400,000 to get us through April – so it’s a good chunk of change we need to keep this going,” LaSoupe director of community kitchen program Emmy Schroder said.
That money would be used to keep people at restaurants working.
“We need them to keep going so we can continue to go as well,” Crowdus said.
The working restaurants would keep people in the community fed.
“It’s just a full circle beautiful thing,” Eisenstein said.
LaSoupe and its community kitchens help feed people across nearly 40 agencies including CAIN and Cincinnati Public Schools students.
Because of the aid of the restaurants involved in the effort, LaSoupe said it was able to rescue an additional 100,000 pounds of food from grocery stores, distributors, manufacturers, farms and restaurants that would otherwise have been thrown away. All of that rescued food was turned into healthy meals for the hungry in the nine months from April 2020, when the community kitchen programs was started, until the end of the year.
Several restaurants who were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic donated kitchen space to the charity for the purposes of preparing food.