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Chef Corrie goes from chef at four-star restaurants to soup kitchen/shelter director

  • Scott LaMar

Airdate: September 13th, 2023


September is Hunger Awareness Month. About 1.7 million Pennsylvanians are food insecure. Many are children who go to bed or wake up hungry.

Downtown Daily Bread in Harrisburg offers a soup kitchen and lunch for those who don’t have or can’t afford food. But Downtown Daily Bread is much more than a place to get a hot meal. It provides a day shelter with cots, computers, phones, and staff counselors; a winter season night shelter for men, and numerous assistance programs such as showers, lockers, mail delivery, laundry cards, vouchers for photo IDs, clothing, and other personal hygiene items.

Downtown Daily bread also has something else that is unique – an Executive Director who was a sous chef at four-star restaurants and written three books.

On The Spark Wednesday, Corrie Ligenfelter or Chef Corrie explained her journey from being a chef at four-star restaurants to Downtown Daily Bread,”I was at a time in my life — it’s time to give back — to be community driven. I’m always been the advocate for any type of food insecurity. And I saw that we had a hunger gap in this area and that as a chef I wanted to tap into that of, “Hey, how can I take what I know, take what I’m working on, continue to advocate for the people?” And that’s kind of how we got the tagline “Feeding the People,” because I wanted to really bring awareness to that demographic and not just stand by. I want to provide good food to anybody. I think anyone should have access to good food, to healthy food, to food that we can sustain. So that is why I was the lead and that was my passion on that different demographic, because it’s fun to cook for actors, it’s fun to cook for celebrities, but then it’s also fun to cook for your community and bring them things that they may not have had access to.”

How does Chef Corrie see hunger in this region?”It’s an unfortunate thing. I think that. I’ve cried over that. And I think you can’t serve something you haven’t cried over. And I mean that by saying, I remember I was a teen mother and I wasn’t always fortunate to have good paying jobs. I was struggling in the beginning, and I remember being on food stamps and waiting for it. I was like a day in between. I ran out of food and I had like these things that I could put together as a meal. But my daughter, I believe, was like three or four at the time. And I remember saying, like, where I can make this and I’ll feed her and then I’ll just take the rest and then whatever. We have food stamps tomorrow, but as long as she’s fed, it’s okay. And so I never put passion behind something I haven’t experienced myself. She’s 15 now, so ten plus years ago. So to then see the people we serve still kind of going through the same thing. Hunger in this region, it’s still an insecurity. There’s still people — the working poor — that they may not get food stamps, but they still don’t make enough to just get the household ingredients, the good food that they need, the nutritional value. We always have these conversations about it’s cheaper to go through Wendy’s than it is to just get some food at Giant. So, I think it is sometimes a sad situation, but I think there’s enough people and agencies like ours that are also bringing solutions and and striving to change that and to bring awareness to food insecurity as well as bring a solution. I think that we could talk about a problem, but I’m very solution based. What’s the solution here? How can we fix this? What can we partner on? And that’s that’s kind of what we’re doing with all the agencies that we work with, with the (Central Pennsylvania) Food Bank, with Feeding America, Feeding Pennsylvania and things like that. But it’s sad and it’s an issue. And I think it needs to be talked about more than just hunger action month as well.”

Chef Corrie new cookbook is called 30 Meals in 30 Minutes. “It’s 30-minute meals. So there’s like 100 meals in here. It’s geared to those that are working, that are busy. The bachelor, the single woman — that’s like, “how can I even put together a meal?” Of course, the working parent, the working person is like, I can’t even find 30 minutes in my day. But we found it for you and we found a meal that can fit. And so it does break down things from breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizers and snacks, desserts, things like that. So it really is for anybody that just is like, “hey, I could not put a meal together. It takes me forever.” And it’s kind of condensing the average meal that would take people think like, “Oh, this can take me an hour.” Well, I’ve made it that it will take you 20 minutes to prep or 10 minutes to prep, 20 minutes to cook, things like that. So yes, it is for everyone.”

Proceeds from sales of the book will go to Downtown Daily Bread.



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