Soup Ladies bring warm food in tragedy

Ginger Passarelli, center, with her Soup Ladies’ team Sheila Lein and Christy Dunn at Oso March 23.  - Courtesy Ginger Passarelli
Ginger Passarelli, center, with her Soup Ladies’ team Sheila Lein and Christy Dunn at Oso March 23.
— image credit: Courtesy Ginger Passarelli

A commercial kitchen in Arlington has become the front line for feeding search and rescue teams in Oso.

Ginger Passarelli and the Soup Ladies hustle through the days preparing and delivering lunch and dinner to the searchers.

Last weekend marked a week since the mudslide that changed the course of the Stillaguamish River and, as of Monday, was confirmed to have claimed 28 lives.

Passarelli, who lives in Black Diamond, founded the Soup Ladies over eight years ago to respond to disasters by feeding first responders. They have served first responders of Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy and wildland firefighters in Southern California, as well as first responders to the tornados in Oklahoma in 2013, to name a few.

“We’re going to stay until they tell us to go home,” Passarelli said last Friday. “It could be two or more weeks.”

Passarelli said the Soup Ladies hit the kitchen early, then ferry those meals out to the first responders before returning and beginning to cook dinner. The number of meals they prepare depends on the needs of the day. Passarelli said sometimes that’s 280 lunches and dinners, or, like last Friday, when it was closer to 500 meals for the day.

“Every day we have at least five or six people in the kitchen,” Passarelli said. “We have teams that take food out to the field and we have teams that are cooking in the kitchen.”

The commercial kitchen is being loaned to the group.

“We’ve been so overwhelmed with donations of stuff, it’s just been fabulous,” Passarelli said. “Everybody up here has been so wonderful.”

She added that thanks to donations they have had all their food needs provided.

“Our biggest need is we have expenses like gas and stuff like that,” Passarelli said. “We are just asking if people want to donate to the Soup Ladies that would be great. Our food and everything else that we need are all covered because people have been so generous.”

Passarelli summed up the Soup Ladies’ mission succinctly: “We’re just cookin’ and feedin’.”


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