Former publishing executive Anthony Caraccio seeks to fill hearts and bellies this holiday season by hosting the Organic Soup Kitchen’s Christmas Dinner Show. The all-day event, taking place at the Veterans Memorial Building on December 25, will feature wholesome food, festive entertainment, and good company.
Although Caraccio traded in his business suit for an apron in early September of this year, he attributes his philosophy of healthy living to his career with Healing Retreats and Spa Magazine. “I formed my own beliefs about how people should live,” he said. “I know how healthful organic food is for you. Just because people are homeless and in the streets doesn’t mean that they should compromise the food they feed themselves or their children.”
His mission to help those in need began following a meditation, when he awoke one morning a 3 a.m. “Given the fact of the way the economy is and how I love to cook, I thought ‘That’s it, an organic soup kitchen,'” he explained to me over the phone, as he baked calzones for an Organic Soup Kitchen staff meeting.
Every Sunday afternoon since the idea dawned on him, Caraccio and his team of volunteers have ladled out about 50 quarts of soup to the homeless and hungry at Pershing Park Sunday. “By looking in their eyes, after a while you realize they’re no different than me,” Caraccio said. “Most of them are smarter than me, the only difference is that they hit a few bumps in the road.”
After providing a free, organic Thanksgiving meal to approximately 400 guests, Caraccio has high hopes for the upcoming dinner.
“I’m trying to reach out to the whole community during these hard economic times,” he said. “The people who are just barely keeping a roof over their head-who are not homeless yet-it will help them. I mean, it’s hard to afford a beautiful Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.”
Following a courtyard breakfast, served until noon, a holiday meal complete with Christmas carols and gifts will wrap up the evening. The menu boasts roast beef with gravy, turkey with cranberry sauce, organic vegetables, organic potatoes, organic wild rice and, of course, Caraccio’s organic soup. Organic markets like Lazy Acres, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s will donate most of the food needed, but, due to his high standards, Caraccio has paid for ingredients out of his pocket as well.
“We are in desperate need of funds because we do not accept day-old or stale food,” he said. “Only top-notch food goes through my hands and to their plates.”
The project, Caraccio said, does not end with the New Year. In fact, he plans to reinvigorate his efforts by hitting the streets, curing desperation with a little fresh soup.
“We will have a mobile soup kitchen on the road within the next few months depending on donations,” he said in a staff memo. “The Organic Soup Kitchen vehicle will travel side streets and high density neighborhoods:[serving] those that have too much pride to go to shelters or just don’t want to subject themselves or their children to a group homeless environment every time they need a meal.”
His travelling plans also include geographic expansion.
“Once I get the blueprint figured out for this particular organization, I can have others do it in different cities,” he said. “I know that out country is not going to repair itself and I know that there are people out there really looking for support.”