Seniors in Cincinnati will get to be part of a first-of-its-kind program that will deliver tasty and chef-driven meals tailored to their medical needs to their homes. On Jan. 26, Meals on Wheels Southwest Ohio & Northern Kentucky announced it will be working with La Soupe, a local food-rescue nonprofit, to bridge the gap between food waste and food insecurity.
This partnership is the first between a local Meals on Wheels program and a food-rescue nonprofit. La Soupe chefs have been creating these medically tailored meals, which use sustainable and rescued ingredients, for seniors with chronic illnesses for over a year now as part of the organization's Food Is Medicine program. But now, this partnership will help La Soupe get the meals into the hands of those who really need them.
“It’s going to offer unique meals to our seniors who have the most limited diets. So for all our cardiac, diabetic seniors out there, they receive meals; they get more options and that’s exciting,” said Michael Beck, chief production officer at Meals on Wheels Southwest Ohio & Northern Kentucky.
Beck said the partnership works because while Meals on Wheels is more production-driven, La Soupe is chef-driven, and his organization can tap into their skills and abilities in the kitchen to better serve their clients.
“There’s miso-glazed cod and things I would never dream of putting on a menu because that’s not who we are, but that’s who La Soupe is, so it’s fantastic,” he said.
Hannah Griswold, the director of La Soupe’s Food is Medicine program, echoed that sentiment, saying Meals on Wheels is helping to streamline the process of getting this nutrition intervention to seniors.
“It’s great that we’re able to utilize each other’s strengths to get out these incredible meals,” Griswold said.
To craft these meals, Griswold said she and her chefs have to get creative to figure out how to use their rescued ingredients in a way that meets the Meals on Wheels clients’ needs without sacrificing flavor.
“So, the minds of my chefs and myself kind of come together to say, ‘OK, what ingredients can we use to stick within the nutrition guidelines for Meals on Wheels so we can get these meals created, adding in different flavors and different cultural cuisines?’” said Griswold.
La Soupe owner Suzy DeYoung said that while coming up with meals that might need reduced sodium or carbs can be tough for those working in the kitchen, the challenge helps them learn to cook with purpose.
“The seniors in Walnut Hills is a group we’ve been serving for quite a while, and their doctors are all telling them they need to be low-sodium,” DeYoung said.
DeYoung added that many of her clients didn’t know where to begin in reducing their salt-intake, so they began strategizing how to help.
“It was just recognizing the fact that this is what they’re asking for," DeYoung said. "We really wanted to expound ‘What if we did medically tailored meals? What if we pushed the envelope?’"
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