Feed’em Soup hopes dinner ends long winter

DeKALB – Two years ago, Feed’em Soup staff planned a pancake dinner like no other. Diners could select from four gourmet pancake flavors made from scratch in the Feed’em Soup kitchen. The group had just moved into its permanent location at 122 S. First St. in DeKalb, and the fundraiser proved vital.

This year’s all-you-can-eat pancake dinner will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28 and Saturday, March 1, at Feed’em Soup. Tickets are $10 each; children 5 and younger eat free. Advance tickets are available at www.feedemsoup.org; tickets will also be available at the door, payable by cash, check and all major credit cards.

Last year, the group’s partner and co-tenant, The Church in DeKalb, moved into a separate building, leaving Feed’em Soup the sole tenant in two units of the South First Street location. As the group took on full responsibilities for rent and utilities, the cold weather this winter caused Feed’em Soup’s heating bills to skyrocket. The organization responded by cutting its budget by 12 percent, but more cuts are expected as climbing utility costs take up more funds.

“We absolutely are living paycheck to paycheck, just like many of those we help,” executive director Derek Gibbs said.

Gibbs blamed the cold and snow for also reducing attendance at weekly fundraisers like After Dark and Soup & Salad Bar and at January’s potato bar fundraiser.

To ensure this year’s all-you-can eat pancake dinner is a success, Feed’em Soup has partnered with community leadership and civic engagement students at Northern Illinois University and with culinary students at Kishwaukee Education Consorium. The dinner will feature bacon pancakes, mixed berry pancakes and Oreo pancakes with cream cheese icing, as well as a flavor selected by the NIU students. Also new this year will be a buffet featuring biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit, sausage, and oatmeal. The fundraiser will also have both a Friday and Saturday service.

“We’re hoping this event will mark the end of a very rough winter for us and many others, and like the first pancake dinner, propel us forward into spring,” Gibbs said.