After two years of twice monthly meal service, Feed’em Soup organizers are hard at work planning for the future. Their twice monthly meals will expand to weekly come January 2013. The group’s current dinner service serves as many as 400+ plates of food to 350+ individuals. In addition to meal service, the group offers a gourmet soup made from scratch. In this case, local restaurants are able to provide on a “Pay-what-you-can” basis, so even if there isn’t a Feed’em soup meal, residents still have access to a warm meal.
The group’s mission isn’t only to feed the community, but also to use quality ingredients in doing so. Therefore, the meals maintain a dignified feel. “We want to be a place where families want to come because the food is great and the environment is fun,” says the group’s Executive Director, Derek Gibbs. “We want to see everyone participating in our meals. We want to be a melting pot for the community. Those that can donate are welcome, and those that are not able won’t be turned away – all are welcome – all are equal.”
Over the next several years, Feed’em Soup organizers hope to expand their dinner service to a full “pay-what-you-can” kitchen offering meal service 4 or 5 days a week. “The only thing holding us back now is funding,” says Executive Director Derek Gibbs. “We’ve got the kitchen; we’ve got the equipment, the volunteers, and the people that need our services. We just need a sustainable source of income,” Executive Chef Alex Smith added, “We provide good, healthful cooking and whole balanced meals in an open community environment. Ideally, I’d like there to always be a good meal available to anyone that needs one.”
Organizers say that at each meal they meet new guests who share their stories. “At almost every meal we hear a story about how someone wouldn’t have been able to feed themselves that day if we’d have not been open,” Gibbs confesses. “What do they do when we aren’t open? That’s not a question we want to continue asking ourselves; we want to be there whenever people may need a meal.”
This month the group will launch a weekly late night American tapas benefit dubbed “Feed’em – After Dark.” Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9pm – 3am at their kitchen located at 122 South First Street in downtown DeKalb, the group will serve a variety of sliders, breakfast foods, and sides. The group’s goal is to create a sustainable source of income in order to support its current services, as well as allow them to increase services. The after dark menu will feature a variety of sliders including Portobello sliders for vegetarians, silver dollar pancakes, waffles and other items. The tapas menu features “mini” items so that diners may snack or enjoy a whole meal. The sliders and mini portions also allow guests to customize their plates for a more unique experience.
While the After Dark service is a benefit, it’s not all about fundraising. The menu will also feature the group’s “Feed’em Soup of the Day” on a pay-what-you-can basis available to anyone who may need a warm meal.
Gibbs, Smith and more than 20 others are the “Core” group behind Feed’em Soup who have worked to make the organization a success over the last three years. While their sites are set on a bright future, they know it won’t be without hurdles. “2013 will be the most challenging year yet for Feed’em,” Gibbs admits. The group currently partners with The Church In DeKalb, who splits rent and utilities in the shared facilities at 122 South First, but that may come to an end in 2013. “The Church has had an amazing opportunity presented to them to acquire a different facility in DeKalb. If it works out for them, we’ll be responsible for 100% of the rent and utilities in our building,” Gibbs said. Gibbs estimates a 20% budget increase in order to afford the space. “It’ll be tough, but we’re ready to put in the hard work to keep our doors open and serving our community,” Gibbs added. “We hope our after dark service will help to cover some of that cost.”
What: Feed’em After Dark Benefit. Late Night American Tapas
When: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. 9pm – 3am
Where: 122 South First Street, DeKalb. (Use south door facing the track)
More Info: www.FeedEmSoup.org or 815.310.0903
Donations can be made online at www.FeedEmSoup.org, or by mailing a check to Feed’em Soup, 122 South First Street, DeKalb Illinois 60115