“Soup Kitchen” reveals the unknown and ugly side of being an entrepreneur in Detroit and questions the stigma around soup kitchen. The author himself, despite having published several novels, written for Detroit News and Deadline Detroit, and been active in the conversation around Detroit revitalization, has been homeless twice in his life. Even after he managed to save up a sufficient amount of money to find a lodging, he struggled with keeping a healthy and balanced diet and sometimes relied on soup kitchens for a hearty meal.
We praise entrepreneurs for their ingenuity and glorify the profession as the creative outlet of people who are unsatisfied with the status quo and who are willing to take risks to make a change. This article sheds light on the aspect of entrepreneurship that nobody likes to face: that it is difficult to work for oneself; that the outward appearance of success doesn’t always correspond with material wealth. As a result, many people dress and behave like they are on top of life, but in fact, they are struggling to make their basic ends meet. Therefore, the author is calling for an end to the stigmatization of soup kitchen. Instead, we should give these facilities more attention and treat them more as “community kitchens” than somewhere that lethargic people go to rummage for free food, so people who go there seeking nutritional meals won’t feel ashamed.
Reading this article gives me a new lens through which to look at the revitalization of Detroit. While focusing on the economic development is important, providing basic necessity to people in need is also an essential step in rebuilding the city. Although the philanthropic effort might still be lacking, there are definitely initiatives taken by Detroiters to solve the problem of food insecurity. Through my project with Detroit Food Academy -- interviewing its mentors who are mostly Detroit food entrepreneurs -- I get the opportunity to talk to many amazing entrepreneurs who are striving to introduce local, fresh and innovative food product to Detroit. One organization, Forgotten Harvest, is “rescuing” food by collecting surplus prepared and perishable food from local grocery stores and redistributes them to emergency food providers in metro Detroit Area. Others, like Fresh Corner Café, is selling affordable, prepared meals, such as wraps and salad, in gas station stores and corner shops around Detroit to provide cheap healthy food to people with financial difficulties.
Detroit, in its process of resurgence, faces a multitude of problems that need to be tackled simultaneously to reach an ideal outcome. Yet, the number of issues are too numerous and too complex to be addressed all at once. The most realistic approach is to keep an open mind, take all perspectives into account, and proceed cautiously forward. Luckily, Detroit social entrepreneurs have been keeping a keen eye on the various struggles faced by the disadvantaged population in the city. Although the help provided may not be adequate for all who is in need, the aid provided is a sign of hope, a beginning that allows for more infrastructure to be built.