A Fix for Hunger

Suzy Deyoung is turn­ing food waste into meals for hun­gry kids

EatingWell - - DEPARTMENTS -

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.


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.”


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.

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