© 2022 Cincinnati Public Radio
Connecting You to a World of Ideas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

La Soupe's model could save food from landfills across Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine says

Jolene Almendarez
Governor Mike DeWine and first lady Fran DeWine eat from a charcuterie board made entirely from food La Soupe saved from the landfill Tuesday in Cincinnati's Walnut Hills.

Governor Mike DeWine shared a charcuterie board with a few people from La Soupe during a visit to Cincinnati Tuesday. The board was made with vegetables, salami and cheese, which was donated food that otherwise would have ended up in a landfill.

The nonprofit saved over a million pounds of food from the dump last year and asked DeWine to support its efforts.

"This could be replicated across the state of Ohio," DeWine said. "It could be done in every single city, even the midsize cities, you certainly could do it. And I think, to me, what's unique is how many different things that they're accomplishing. Not just getting food that was going to be thrown away — saving it, getting it out to people who need it — but they're also reaching out to children, which Fran and I find really very exciting."

Mike DeWine
Jolene Almendarez
La Soupe Founder Suzy Deyoung explains to Governor Mike and Fran DeWine how the organization gives out Crock Pots to families in need and shows them how to cook nutritious meals.

While at the Walnut Hills nonprofit, DeWine toured the kitchen and storage areas while founder Suzy DeYoung explained exactly how the organization saved so much food from being wasted.

It relies on partnering with local businesses and food providers to let them know La Soupe accepts scraps, like the curved end of salami, and imperfect food to cook with. Then, pre-made meals or snack packs can be given to senior living facilities or after-school programs to feed people who otherwise might not get a nutritious meal.

La Soupe says it received 3,700 pounds of food on Tuesday and will have donated more than 2,800 pounds by the end of the day. It also has education programs that gives people in need a crockpot and teaches children nutrition and cooking skills.

La Soupe
Jolene Almendarez
La Soupe saved more than a million pounds of food from ending up in the dump in 2020.

"Food that's being wasted now goes to people who are hungry ... They're making soups and things that they can deliver to older Ohioans," DeWine said. "Children are learning how to cook. There's very few things that we do that have all these different components. So, we're gonna go back and see what we can do (to help)."

DeWine said it's his mission now to see if there's anything that can be done on a state level to keep nonprofits like La Soupe open and serving the community.

Advocates asked DeWine to expand the language on an existing Ohio law that would allow them to sell food made with donations without fear of liability. For instance, in addition to the thousands of pounds of donated food Tuesday, La Soupe was selling quarts of lobster bisque soup and Moroccan braised beef with penne pasta to help keep the organization up and running.

DeWine made two other stops while in town, including one at the Great American Ball Park to announce the return of a baseball to the historically Black Wilberforce University next fall.

Jolene Almendarez is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who came to San Antonio in the 1960s. She was raised in a military family and has always called the city home. She studied journalism at San Antonio College and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Public Communications from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She's been a reporter in San Antonio and Castroville, Texas, and in Syracuse and Ithaca, New York.