Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Better World Cafe - the future of soup kitchens

I visited A Better World Cafe in Highland Park for lunch Wednesday with Steve Nagel & Bridget Kennedy.

"This is the future of soup kitchens," said Chef Rachel.  It provides warm, nutritous meals for everybody, regardless of one's ability to pay.  It offers people a chance to volunteer or earn credits to have more than the daily complimentary meal.  And it offers people a chance to donate cash by paying a bit more than the suggested donation for their meal.

Their Web site can be found at
 Here is their message:
Welcome to A Better World Café, opened Oct. 21, 2009. This is a community kitchen, serving lunch Monday through Friday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. (with hope to expand into dinner and weekend hours in the future; for now it is weekday lunchtime only). The café’s purpose is to help make a sustainable world where all may eat.  Here’s our menu. You select your portions and pay a fair price through one of the following options:
  • You may pay the suggested price or something different. If you pay more, you will help feed someone else who has more limited resources.
  • You may volunteer an hour of time in exchange for a meal.
  • You may dine on the complimentary dish of the day if you can neither pay nor volunteer.
  • You may use the complimentary dish as one of your selections when you are selecting multiple items, to help keep your total cost down.
A New Kind of Cafe
This social enterprise, a partnership between Elijah's Promise and Who Is My Neighbor? Inc., hopes to make healthy eating accessible and affordable for all. A Better World Cafe follows a community cafe model pioneered by Denise Cerreta of One World Everybody Eats in Salt Lake City, Utah.

This new kind of cafe reduces food waste, since customers choose their own portion sizes. It reduces trash because it does not use Styrofoam cups, plastic utensils, or paper plates. And it helps global neighbors because the coffees and teas are fairly traded. The  cafe uses seasonal foods--grown, cooked, and served in ways that make sense for the environment and for the customer's budget.
Community Outreach
Creating livable wage jobs, the cafe employs skilled workers who have been trained at Elijah's Promise Culinary School, and also utilizes volunteers -- some working in exchange for food, others just pitching in to create sustainable eating for all.

Food is prepared at the Culinary School by its graduates and students, and brought to the cafe daily. On-the-job training and employment opportunities for low-income adults and youth are built into the operation. An array of healthy eating choices helps provide the dietary means for people to improve
health and reduce obesity, developing a healthier community.

Visit A Better World Cafe
A Better World Cafe is located in the Quilt Room* of the Reformed Church of Highland Park. There is a parking lot between 2nd and 3rd Ave. off Raritan Ave. (Route 27).  Phone number: 732.510.1572.

* Note: The Quilt Room is a start-up location. The Reformed Church is incubating the cafe until it can generate enough patronage and resources to create its own space, to be open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week, develop more jobs, utilize more volunteers, and make healthy eating accessible and affordable for more people.
A Better World Cafe Blog
The best way to keep up with the cafe is by reading the blog, where you will receive all the latest news, events, menus, and changes.
They are also on Facebook.

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