Written by Lisa Soper, Youth Services & Programming Coordinator, Downtown Main Library
The Library is piloting a program at several of our branch libraries that aims to tackle food insecurity for entire families. We’ve teamed up with La Soupe to provide frozen meals every Monday through the end of December. Five locations are currently participating, with plans to expand to seven locations beginning Nov. 16.
This program is in addition to, and separate from, the weekly meal boxes for youth program that is run in cooperation with UMC Food Ministry. These boxes are available for pickup Mondays at select library locations.
For details about either program, and updates on times and locations, visit our meals page.
About the La Soupe Meals
The La Soupe meals come frozen in individual or family-size portions (serving five to eight people) and typically consist of a protein, starch, and vegetable. The frozen meals are provided by La Soupe’s Community Kitchen Program, opens a new window, which transforms food provided by grocers and other food outlets into healthy meals that are distributed to those struggling to access food in our communities. The program also employs restaurant chefs and staff who lend their culinary expertise and skills to increase the production of meals to maximize distribution.
"The goal of the initiative is to address not only the increase in food insecurity, but also to lend support to those in the food industry that find themselves financially stressed due to the pandemic. This successful program also pays local restaurants to help prepare these meals. So far, the program has put out over 500,000 servings of food, and pumped $500,000 into the local restaurant economy," said Emmy Schroder, director of Food as Medicine at La Soupe.
How the Program Works
Each meal is labeled with item name, ingredients, allergens, and instructions for reheating. Individuals and families pick up their meals at their participating branch, between 3-6 p.m. Mondays, while supplies last. La Soupe funds this program through grants and donations.
Success in Deer Park
The Library's Deer Park Branch has been serving the frozen meals since Oct. 19, and has already distributed 620 servings in the community as of early November.
Natalie Fields, manager of the Deer Park Branch, has gotten rave reviews from many customers, including a senior couple who picked up two individual meals, split them into eight servings, and shared them with six elderly neighbors.
Another customer expressed their gratitude for the timing of the new service. "I’ve never been in a spot like this before. We were okay ‘til last week, then my hours got cut again. We’ve never had to do this before, thanks for being here for us."
Fields said the program also is a great way to introduce our many services to the community.
"When we connect with folks using this program, we can check in and share additional resources, whatever is needed: economic assistance, WiFi or help with the computer, access to Job & Family Services, homework help, or a kind word and conversation in this isolating time," said Fields.
In addition to the Library's programs, community members may access free meals through the following organizations:
- Freestore Foodbank, opens a new window Liberty Street Market 513-241-1064
Our Daily Bread, opens a new window 513-621-3513
All meals provided through the Library and its partnerships are funded through individual, corporate, and foundation gifts specifically for this program.
For the most up-to-date information on Library meal programs visit our meals page.