La Soupe gets assist from Taste of Belgium, Trader Joe’s

La Soupe is making sure food that would otherwise go to waste is being put to good use during the coronavirus pandemic while tapping a large population of out-of-work food and dining industry workers to help.

“Really, the mission at this point is to utilize (the) untapped resource of these chefs, now unemployed,” Suzy DeYoung, owner and founder of Anderson Township-based La Soupe, told WCPO. “Get ’em off unemployment. Come back to work under this model of cooking for those who are simply hungry.”

Before COVID-19 hit the region, DeYoung and her team were already serving 6,500 meals a week for kids in need. Now they’re serving 25,000 meals, for whole families.

Their output outgrew their Anderson facility. So now they’re co-opting Taste of Belgium’s space in East Walnut Hills to prep the meals.

“I love what Suzy has been doing with La Soupe,” Taste of Belgium owner Jean-Francois Flechet, told WCPO. “We can produce a lot of food, and people can do it safely because we can social distance.”

The team has gotten to a Santa’s Workshop-like level of efficiency, cranking out the gift of free meals in uncertain times.

“I think this is an answer, economically and spiritually,” DeYoung said.

Eric Williams, also with Taste of Belgium, agreed: “It fills my heart. There are so many people underprivileged. The fact we can contribute to that, it’s huge.”

Trader Joe’s in Sycamore Township was without power in April and forced to close as a result of Wednesday night’s storms.

But thanks to an employee’s connection with La Soupe more than a ton of frozen food was donated Thursday.

La Soupe employees rescued the frozen food that Trader Joe’s put outside the store on Montgomery Road, said Suzy DeYoung, executive chef and owner of the nonprofit.

“They packaged it all and put it in shopping carts and we just put it into the cars,” DeYoung said.

About 3,000 pounds of frozen food was donated by Trader Joe’s, she said.

La Soupe also recently picked up 1,300 pounds of food from Belterra Casino Resort in Indiana, she said.

Much of the food will be given away at the Cincinnati Public Schools food pickup sites.

Some of the frozen food in packages was already given to Rose Garden Mission in Covington.

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