Feed ‘Em Soup moves into new home Oct. 26


On Oct. 26, Feed ‘Em Soup will move to a new location at 122 S. First St. This is the first time the organization will have its own location.

By Ryan Felgenhauer

Local nonprofit organization Feed ‘Em Soup will open a new location Oct. 26.

The group will move to its own location, 122 S. First St. in DeKalb, from its previous space at First Lutheran Church, 324 N. First St.

“We have a great new location,” said Derek Gibbs, former vice president of Feed ‘Em Soup. “The kitchen alone is 1,800 square feet. That’s five times as big as the church kitchen.”

The building will expand the number of people the organization can serve at its community meals.

“At the church, we can serve at most 150 people,” said Randi Kennedy, acting president for Feed ‘Em Soup. “In the new dining room, we can serve at least 200.”

The new building will give Feed ‘Em Soup its own storage space, an important addition to the group.

“The National Food Bank can help supply us with food for our meals and take-home table,” Kennedy said. “But to qualify to receive that help, we needed our own storage space.”

The building also gives the group a location of its own, something they lacked previously.

“We couldn’t keep living out of storage bins,” Kennedy said. “And every organization needs a place to call home.”

The building is also in a more accessible location than its old space.

“We’re right by a bus stop,” Gibbs said. “It will be much easier for new people to find the kitchen.”

The building took work to get into usable condition.

“It took about five or six months,” Gibbs said. “We had to replace all of the plumbing to bring it up to code.”

Feed ‘Em Soup received assistance in repairing its building.

“Waubonsee Community College helped us a lot,” Gibbs said. “Their air conditioning repair department donated around $8,000 to $12,000 worth of work repairing our ventilation system.”

The kitchen was in a state of disrepair when the organization first moved.

“The kitchen walls are half-brick and half-drywall,” Gibbs said. “The drywall was dilapidated and rotting, and we had to replace that as well as remodel the rest of the kitchen.”

Feed ‘Em Soup also had to clean up messes left by the building’s former tenants.

“This building used to be owned by a series of restaurants,” Gibbs said. “We had to clean up lots of grease left by their fryers.”

The group’s old location at First Lutheran Church will not be forgotten.

“We really are grateful for First Lutheran letting us use their space,” said David Marx, core member of Feed ‘Em Soup. “They really helped out a lot. Without them, we wouldn’t have gotten this far.”

The group hopes to open its new location for a community meal Oct. 26, but it acknowledges the possibility that it will not be ready in time.

“We hope to open for Oct. 26,” Kennedy said. “But if there are problems, we will definitely be open for Nov. 9.”