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Unlimited pasta bar helps keep the lights on Feed’em Soup

Published: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – Feed’em Soup has put a unique twist on its annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser. This year, the dinner will be presented as an unlimited pasta bar featuring a variety of pasta shapes including spaghetti and rotini, and a variety of sauces like marinara, carbonara, and alfredo, made fresh in the Feed’em Soup kitchen.

“We wanted to offer a wider variety of items to appeal to a larger audience,” executive director Derek Gibbs said. “It will be a better event for our donors and ultimately raise more funds for us to continue our mission.”

Feed’em Soup Community Project is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit community kitchen providing free meals to the public from 5-7 p.m. each Wednesday and from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. every Thursday and Friday. The harsh winter weather significantly hurt the group’s fundraising efforts, and the increases in utility costs have put them behind on critical bills needed to keep the doors open and the lights on.

The group’s late-night restaurant, After Dark, grossed about $20,000 in 2013 to support the organization’s mission, making it the largest fundraiser by far. In the first quarter of 2014, sales at After Dark were down 60 percent.

“We’ve had to cut a significant portion of our budget,” Gibbs said. “Our After Dark program has struggled hardest.”

The budget was trimmed by cuts to building improvements, kitchen upgrades, staffing and wages, and food costs. The group needs less than $120,000 annually to operate and anticipates serving a minimum of 17,500 “donate-what-you-can” style meals this year. People who are able to pay for a meal are welcome at the group’s free servings, and are asked to pay whatever amount they can. Those who give more than the cost of their meal help to cover the meals of those who cannot pay.

“We’re having to do at least one major fundraiser each month to keep from falling too far behind,” Gibbs said.

The pasta bar will be held from 5-8 p.m. April 18 and 19 at Feed’em Soup, 122 S. First St. in DeKalb. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door; children 5 and younger are free with a paying adult.

The group receives no state or government funding and is supported completely through independent means such as the group’s internal fundraisers, corporate grants, business sponsorships and, most of all, donations from local people. Feed’em Soup is hoping to raise about $4,000 through the Pasta Bar.

For more information or to make a donation, visit feedemsoup.org.

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