They shared how their vision is based off the successful SAME cafe, the first non-profit restaurant in Denver, whose mission is of "serving food for the greater good". The front page of the Same Cafe's website says "Everyone, regardless of economic status, deserves the chance to eat healthy food while being treated with dignity."
As Kathleen spoke about their cafe and why they are so dedicated to starting this in Fort Collins, her passion and compassion were deeply evident, as well as infectious, and you could tell that she believed deeply in this idea of personal dignity. She passed on a story that she had heard from the people at Same Cafe, which illustrates this commitment to building people's sense of dignity and of having something valuable to contribute. To paraphrase her story: "When people first come in, their heads are held low...you can tell they are ashamed and don't know where they fit in or what they have to contribute. But someone will immediately take them under their wing and before asking any questions or putting them to work, they'll get them comfortable and serve them a delicious, warm meal. Once they feel satiated and welcome, their heads are a little bit higher, and then they'll be given a simple job...maybe just stacking chairs. The next time they come in, their heads are held even higher, and they immediately ask how they can help, offer their services with pride, and feel comfortable. Each time they come in, their confidence gets higher and higher as they see they are being treated like a human being who has something valuable to give. Soon enough, they feel like they're an important contributor, and feel a part of a family."
So TGP discussed potential avenues for collaboration, and among others came up with 2 obvious and simple ideas: Produce from TGP's giving gardens could go to their kitchen for use in the cafe, and FoCo volunteers could also volunteer in our gardens. Also, if FoCo Cafe happened to find a location with garden space available, then TGP could set up a UFO garden onsite at the restaurant, allowing volunteers to work right there and for the harvest to go straight into the kitchen! Since a lot of TGP's produce still goes to the Food Bank, and we are looking for more and more opportunities to "teach people to fish rather than just giving them fish", designating some of our produce to the FoCo cafe would be in line with that goal. Right now, these are all just ideas, but we are hoping that FoCo Cafe is successful and able to quickly realize their dream of openeing their doors, whatever level of collaboration TGP has with them.
Here is more info from the FoCo Cafe website:
FoCo Cafe Mission:
Building community by providing nutritious and delicious meals to the people of Fort Collins regardless of their ability to pay while using local, organic, and sustainably grown ingredients.
FoCo Cafe Vision:
We strive to build a healthy community by providing delicious and nutritious food in a respectful and dignified manner to anyone who walks through the door and wants to contribute to our community. We envision that the quality of the food and the comfortable atmosphere will draw people from all walks of life and entice them to become involved. Volunteers will feel satisfied by their experience on many levels, because the cafe is a vehicle that positively impacts our community environmentally, economically, and socially.
FoCo Cafe Values:
- Every human innately has dignity and should be treated as such.
- Every duty, volunteer or otherwise, has value.
- Participating in a community nourishes the soul.
- Everyone deserves to eat nutritional food.
- All people need a hand up at some point(s) in their lives.