A Fix for Hunger
Suzy Deyoung is turning food waste into meals for hungry kids
Cincinnati, Ohio, has one of the country’s most food-insecure populations. Suzy Deyoung’s nonprofit program is helping to change that, one bowl of soup at a time, while simultaneously reducing the amount of food the city wastes each year—a creative solution that’s saved 263,000 tons of perfectly good food from winding up in landfills.
After operating a catering business in her home city of Cincinnati for 25 years, Suzy Deyoung craved a change. And in 2014, two statistics in the news gave her food for thought: 40 percent of America’s food was going to waste and 42 percent of Cincinnatians were foodinsecure. “If I could just take 20 percent from one column and shift it to the other,” Deyoung pondered, “it would be so much better for everybody!” That year, Deyoung sold her business and started La Soupe: a nonprofit that transforms food destined for the dumpster into soup for the hungry. But one event crystallized her mission.
WHAT SHE DID
One November Friday, Cincinnati’s Oyler School had an unexpected snow day. Kids who typically received food to take home for the weekend didn’t. The next Monday, Deyoung saw a teacher’s Facebook post saying that some of her students hadn’t eaten for three days because of the closure. Deyoung said, “B.S. I’ve got food!” So she brought some food to the school. The principal took note of the healthy options and asked if La Soupe could take over and make the students’ weekend meal boxes. For Deyoung, the answer was clear: “That’s why I’m doing this: to utilize perfectly good food that was going to waste and get it to people in need.”
WHY IT’S COOL
Today, La Soupe feeds 2,000 Cincinnatians weekly and during the school year kids get a weekend “Souper Sack” filled with homemade soup, fresh fruit, protein-snack bags with nuts and cheese, and applesauce or smoothie. To date, Deyoung along with a staff of 13 and 100-plus volunteers have saved 263,000 tons of food waste—enough to fill a football stadium, twice! La Soupe also hosts kids’ cooking classes, delivers free soups to city food deserts in its Soupe Mobile and sells soup from its Soupe Shack. “We’re not diverting food waste,” Deyoung says. “We’re creating with it. The reason it was grown? To be eaten!”
“I think everybody at some point should take a step back and say, ‘How can I use my talents to make the world better?’” says Suzy Deyoung, standing in front of La Soupe’s Soupe Mobile.