Food industry rallies behind soup kitchen

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When members of the Colorado Springs food and restaurant communities join forces, the results can be impressive. Take Stephanie Cardwell, 2002 Taste of the Nation chairman and former chef for Antonio’s Restaurant, for example. She ran into Frank Crosson, executive director of the Marian House Soup Kitchen in February and agreed to volunteer as the Soup Kitchen’s chef on Wednesdays.

Her first day on the job, Cardwell tossed three extra onions (from home) in her purse and headed down to Marian House where she found the pantry bare indeed. “I found six green peppers, some odd cuts of beef from Safeway and bags of rice. That was it.” Cardwell feeds an average of 500 hungry visitors for lunch each day – but she is alarmed by sagging donations, due in part to diversion of supplies to help the Hayman fire evacuees and because of increased pressures on area food pantries in a down economy.

Cardwell has also learned that the Soup Kitchen relies almost exclusively on local grocery stores, suppliers and individuals to fill its pantry – and is rarely able to stock spices/condiments, fresh fruits and vegetables. “We work with what we’ve got,” she says, “but I worry especially about the increasing number of at-risk children and families we serve. They need good nutrition.”

Motivated by a desire to help the Marian House meet its goal to “feed the hungry,” Cardwell and Crosson – along with former Briarhurst Manor owners, Sigi and Kandace Krauss, decided to organize the first annual “Golf for Groceries” fundraising event. In July, an informal committee formed, and Dan White, Woodmoor Country Club chef, along with dozens of restaurants, food suppliers and community supporters committed to assist in the effort. Some of those companies include: Woodmoor Pines Country Club; United Restaurant Supply (represented by Jim Rogers, former owner of McKenna’s Pub); Cheers; Coors; Sinton Dairy Foods; Coca-Cola Distributing; Pepsi-Cola (Lane Sales)and many, many more. As a grand prize, Italian restaurant, Buco di Beppo will donate dinner for eight; the Broadmoor is donating brunch for four; The Cliff House will provide overnight accommodations; Chinook Bookstore has contributed a gift certificate; Howard’s Pit Barbeque will help feed guests on September 13; and the City of Colorado Springs Valley Hi golf professional, Mike Northern, will contribute golf lessons to fund-raising bidders. The list of support goes on and on.

“We have been so touched by the response we have received this far,” says Don Holliday, Cardwell’s husband and high-tech employee. “Our friends in the food industry understand the importance of feeding the hungry – and they have been a tremendous help in getting the word out.”

According to Cardwell, the tournament to benefit the Marian House Soup Kitchen will be held on Friday, September 13, 2002 at the Woodmoor Pines Country Club, in Monument. Supporters can sign up to play golf, sponsor a hole, or attend the buffet only. The cost is $125.00 per person for golf – including 18 holes, golf cart, prizes, tournament memento, grazing buffet, wine and beer. Non-golfers may participate for $35 per person for the grazing buffet only. Hole sponsorships are offered at either the $650 and $1,000 level.

“This is the first fundraiser ever organized for the Marian House Soup Kitchen,” said Crosson. “We feed the hungry seven days a week, 365 days a year, and appreciate our friends in the restaurant industry for their loyal support. Some, like the Cheyenne Mountain Conference Resort, Safeway and Kings Soopers have saved us many times with their regular donations.” Crosson also notes that more than 175,000 individuals are served with hot, nutritious meals each year by community volunteers. “I don’t know what we’d do without such strong support from area businesses and volunteers,” he said.