Cincinnati State & La Soupe provided meals for furloughed federal workers

Midwest Culinary Institute Executive Chef Jason Lafferty examined food to be shared with federal employees.

On Jan. 23 and 24, 2019, La Soupe, Inc. and Cincinnati State provided free meals for furloughed federal workers and their families, using food donated by local organizations.

Volunteers started preparations for the “pop-up kitchen” on Jan. 22, in Midwest Culinary Institute kitchens.

The volunteer chefs and assistants expected to provide 1,500 meals each day.

On both days, federal workers and their families could pick up takeout meals at the Summit Restaurant’s valet entrance, or dine inside the Summit for an evening meal.

The meals and service were free of charge for anyone showing their federal employee ID.

La Soupe, Inc., is a nonprofit organization that bridges the gap between food waste and hunger by rescuing perishable food, transforming it into delicious and nutritious meals, and sharing with the food insecure.

“Even if the federal workers are not starving yet, and they likely are not, we want to let them know that somebody cares,” said Suzy DeYoung, founder and executive director of La Soupe.

DeYoung founded LaSoupe in 2014 and it became a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization the following year.

LaSoupe has rescued more than 725,000 pounds of food that it transformed into free meals for local children and families with food insecurities. La Soupe distributes the meals through a “sharing network” of schools, food pantries, and community organizations.

Leftover meals from the event at Cincinnati State were distributed through La Soupe’s sharing network.

Cincinnati State’s Midwest Culinary Institute has long been one of La Soupe’s partners. Students and staff at the Midwest Culinary Institute regularly volunteer to take produce rescued by La Soupe and make various soups that can be donated.

“Part of our mission as a community college is to support local nonprofits that serve others, so we are very happy to partner with La Soupe on this event for federal workers,” said Chef Jason Lafferty, associate dean and executive chef of Cincinnati State’s Midwest Culinary Institute.

“Food insecurity is an everyday problem for a lot of people in our community,” said Grace Yek, a local food writer, speaker, and educator who helped organize the event for federal workers. “With this event, we hope to feed those who don’t normally need this kind of help.”

Other local organizations supporting the event included Sysco Cincinnati, Crosset Co., SugarCreek, Master Provisions, 80 Acres Farms, Servatii’s, Sixteen Bricks Bakery, and Deeper Roots Coffee.

DeYoung was inspired to create the free meal event for local federal employees after learning about the “Chefs for Feds” initiative that celebrity chef Jose Andres established for government employees in Washington, D.C. DeYoung is a member of Andres’ “World Central Kitchen” organization.

Article by Richard Curtis, Interim Media/Communications Coordinator, Cincinnati State