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CISE Partners with La Soupe to Feed Body & Mind

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by Cynthia Kenny

In a renovated space on McMillian Street, busy kitchen sounds were replaced with friendly greetings as two teams entered the meeting room. Catholic Inner-city School Education (CISE) and La Soupe team members got right to the point: What do they need to get more healthy food to the families of students if they have virtual or blended learning? How will distribution happen and where? Within two hours, a new and more aggressive strategy for the La Soupe-CISE partnership was in place.

Suzy DeYoung, founder and director of La Soupe, had a nagging passion. Her dream, now a reality, was two-pronged: Feed those who need healthy food, and help eliminate food waste in the community. Restaurants and grocery stores alike dump tons of food every week into landfills. She knew there was a way to solve it. Thanks to dedicated and generous donors, La Soupe moved into their McMillian Street space early in 2020 and is making an important impact in feeding and teaching the community.

“We need to plan as we go,” said DeYoung. “Being flexible and multitasking is often what women do so well. It’s part of how we think, solving problems as they arise. Who knows what will come tomorrow? The goal is the same whether classes are virtual or in person.”

“This city is full of people who care, and if we can problem-solve together, we can accomplish a lot. Children can’t learn if they are hungry,” said Partner Relations Manager, Katy Nardolillo.

“Our kids, 94 percent of whom live in poverty, depend on their school. It’s often the one constant in their lives offering consistency, safety and trust. A basic part of that is nourishment,” said Mabe Rodriquez, executive director of CISE. “We formerly gave Power Packs for the weekends, but partnering with La Soupe, we can offer them a family meal. Not only does it nourish them, but it provides a chance for them to sit as a family.”

“Working with like-minded people is a gift. We see the same end-game,” said Cynthia Kenny, CISE 2020 Campaign co- chair. “Keeping our priorities straight during COVID and beyond is the aim. Education and healthy food are critical building blocks for success. Most of us take both for granted. It is surprisingly simple to solve problems when we aren’t afraid to question things to better understanding what works. Business as usual is out the window. Innovation, partnerships and reevaluation of processes are the winning ingredients, now.”

Feeding our community, both in terms of body and mind, has never been more important. If you’d like to partner with CISE, please visit CISEkids.org or contact [email protected].

This article appeared in the October edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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