The effort started when Palmer Square Management paid the Princeton Soup & Sandwich Company to make 100 meals to donate to frontline health care workers.
It felt good to contribute, said Lisa Ruddy, owner of the Princeton Soup & Sandwich Company. The popular shop had seen a dramatic drop in business since Princeton University sent students home and area businesses closed because of the governor’s shelter-in-place order.
The work felt good enough that Ruddy and her daughter Alexandra wanted to do more. They set up a Go Fund Me page asking for donations to pay for more brown bag lunches for healthcare workers.
“Everyone wants to help but they don’t know how,” said Ruddy. Setting up the Go Fund Me account gave them a way.
The Go Fund Me campaign took off, bringing in $10,000 in private donations during the first week toward a goal of $15,000.
“We have made 1,000 lunches” so far, said Ruddy, who has been making soup from scratch and serving salads, sandwiches, and cookies in Princeton since 2005. Her lunches have been delivered to healthcare workers at the Princeton Medical Center in Plainsboro, Capital Health in Hopewell, and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton. They also have been delivered to Princeton and South Brunswick police departments.
“It’s been rewarding to see how people are so generous during these trying times,” said Ruddy. In addition to making life a little easier for the frontline workers, she said people want to help small businesses like hers.
The lunch orders have kept Ruddy and her staff busy during these difficult times, making soups as well as meat and vegetarian sandwiches served on a variety of breads, including multi-grain and gluten-free.
Each lunch includes a sandwich, soup or salad, a piece of fresh fruit, and a cookie.
The staff members, including culinary school graduate Alexandra, have been busy coming up with new ideas as well. In addition to the restaurant’s traditional offerings being available for pickup or delivery, they have crafted a Fam Bam lunch/ dinner box for four people. It includes four sandwiches, four house side salads with dressings, four cups of soup, and four chocolate chip cookies. A portion of the price goes toward the Go Fund Me page.
Business goes on at the Princeton Soup & Sandwich Company, with deliveries throughout the area. They also have been known to pick up staples such as bread and milk for their delivery customers who are staying home.
“We’re taking care of people,” said Rudd.
The menu remains the same as usual, she said, with a noticeable uptick in the number of orders for full quarts of soup.
Looking for more ways to help, the Ruddys have been contributing to the newly formed Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood Project created by Princeton resident Blair Miller. The group helps needy residents during the COVID-19 crisis. The project supplies residents with meals, toiletries, baby products, and other items.
For their next project, the Ruddys are looking for ways to supply food to the families of healthcare workers.
Prior to the pandemic, the Ruddys were planning to open a catering kitchen in Cranbury. That plan is still in the works.
The Princeton Soup & Sandwich Company is located at 30 Palmer Square East. Contact them online at princetonsoupandsandwich.com or call 609-497-0008. To make a donation the Princeton Soup & Sandwich Company’s efforts, visit the Go Fund Me page: gofundme.com/f/critical-care-workers-boxed-lunch-meals