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The Soup Ladies volunteers, with founder Ginger Passarelli pictured fourth from the left. (Photo from www.soupladies.org)

The Soup Ladies of Black Diamond Feed First Responders in Oso

Back when Hurricane Katrina struck, Black Diamond's Ginger Passarelli worked in sales. But she felt a strong urge to help feed the First Responders working hard to rescue people from the rubble down in Louisiana.

"We went to Mississippi after Katrina and we served First Responders. There wasn't anyone taking care of them before we got there."

When she returned to Washington, she traded in sales for cooking, and the non-profit The Soup Ladies was born. Since then, Ginger and her caring, culinary crew have fed First Responders after disasters across the country.

"We've been to Galveston and Joplin, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas. We've gone to hurricanes and tornadoes and cooked. New York after Hurricane Sandy."

The Soup Ladies mission is "To serve fresh, hot, made-from-scratch meals" and they've been doing just that for the people of Oso, since Saturday, the day of the mudslide.

"We've been working long hours and we're pretty tired. We've get up around five in the morning and get done around eight-thirty, nine o'clock every night."

They started out cooking meals from Ginger's Black Diamond restaurant, Mama Passarelli's, but they quickly learned it made much more sense to camp out in Arlington and cook out of a kitchen there.

"Oh, we've been cooking really yummy food. We did roasted red potatoes with kielbasa and baby carrots with cheese melted all over it. They loved that. Today they had glazed ham with vegetables and potatoes."

Ginger now makes a living running her restaurant, but helping disaster relief crews through The Soup Ladies is her true passion.

"I just thought it was wrong that the First Responders were just left out there to fend for themselves with MREs and whatever they could stuff in their pockets. So we wanted to find a way we could serve First Responders. We wanted to do it right. So we all got our Incident Command System training through FEMA and we're all background checked and fingerprinted. We know how to conduct ourselves on an incident."

The Soup Ladies have been serving about 250 people a day, on average, since Saturday's mudslide.

Rachel Belle, Ron and Don Show Reporter
Rachel Belle is a feature contributor and personality on The Ron & Don Show on KIRO Radio (weekdays 3-7pm), and host of Ring My Belle Weekends (Sundays at 3pm).
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