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Customers at Folsom taqueria launch 'suspended soup' initiative to help feed hungry

Anyone -- a homeless person or someone simply tight for money -- should feel comfortable to take the meal.

The idea came over a bowl of soup.

While at lunch at Folsom's Sutter Street Taqueria on Wednesday, Dr. Michele Raithel looked at her left-over meal and remembered an article she had recently read about "suspended coffee" -- a scheme where someone can go to a coffee shop and pre-purchase a coffee on behalf of someone else who might need it.

Raithel decided to launch the same thing right then and there -- with soup.

"I went up to Rosario in the middle of the lunch rush and said I want a suspended soup," said Raithel, referring to Rosario Rodriquez, the restaurant owner. "She looked at my like I was crazy and said, 'What are you talking about?'"

While Rodriquez hadn't heard of the suspended meals concept, she quickly got on board.

"I thought what a fantastic idea," said Rodriquez. "What a way to give back to somebody and have it be very confidential. No questions asked."

Raithel made the first purchase and within minutes others, like her friend Adrian Blanco, did so, too.

"What kind of resonated with me is at Folsom Lake High there are some homeless kids there," said Blanco. "I'm a father and that hit home."

To raise awareness, Blanco posted about the initiative on the Facebook group Folsom Chat. Jenny Slenter was one of the people who saw the post and went to make a suspended meal purchase.

"I thought it was great to come and eat my dinner and then give back to somebody else who can't get their own dinner," Slenter explained.

As of Thursday night, just over 24 hours since it started, nine meals had already been purchased at Sutter Street Taqueria. A nearby restaurant, Nuby's Cafe, heard about the idea and announced they would also launch the same scheme.

Rodriquez hopes the idea continues to take off, admitting it's something even she once could have benefited from.

"The month before we opened things got really tight," she recalled. "I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day for a whole month because I had to."

Raithel said anyone -- a homeless person or someone simply tight for money -- should feel comfortable to take the meal.

"You never know who is in a financial pinch," she said. "You can't tell by looking outwardly that someone is need."

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