ATLANTIC CITY — For the last two years, the Atlantic City Rescue Mission has welcomed into its kitchen a group of culinary power players it calls its "Souper Chefs," who return each week to produce some 600 bowls of soup for the mission's clients.

The chefs, many of whom have backgrounds in the city's casinos, all prepare their own recipes with a focus on heart-healthy cuisine. Through June of this year, they've handed out 75,000 bowls to people in need, who stand a much greater chance of obtaining and keeping employment and housing if they are fed properly.

For ACRM, which is now in its sixth decade of providing not only food, but also shelter, clothing, educational and vocational services, and faith-based counseling to 3,000 unique people a year, the chefs' presence sparked the dual idea of spreading the message of proper nutrition as well as opening up an additional revenue stream.

The manifestation of that concept is a new cookbook, expected to be released Dec. 1, featuring the recipes of the Souper Chefs. Daniel Brown, ACRM president and CEO, said the book would also emphasize the 30,000 pounds of produce available to these chefs every year via two farms that the mission maintains, not to mention food donations they also use.

"This is a really amazing group of people who are taking their time and showing that they love the work that the mission does," Brown said. "That's what it's all about."

Unlike most shelters in New Jersey, which require vouchers from the county for clients to avail themselves of a shelter's services, ACRM's doors are open to anyone — particularly those "bound and bruised," as Brown put it, by addictive lifestyles — making it one of the largest such facilities in the state.

Among the people who come for food every day are children of school age who stop in for a well-balanced breakfast. They are just one group who could benefit from the knowledge that the Souper Chefs have to impart, knowledge that will be put to paper by the end of this year.

"We said, 'Boy, wouldn't it be something if we had a cookbook that people could make these heart-healthy soups themselves, because they are absolutely fantastic," Brown said.

For more about the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, visit acrescuemission.org.

Patrick Lavery produces “New Jersey’s First News” and is New Jersey 101.5’s morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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