One Acre Cafe, a local affiliate of the national One World Everybody Eats hunger-fighting program that invites everyone to eat what they want and pay what they can, is on track to open in Johnson City later this year.
To help address the risk of hunger experienced by 20 percent of Northeast Tennessee residents who live at or below the federal poverty level, the new cafe will focus on two key areas of service: community feeding and volunteer employment training.
To introduce the One World Everybody Eats concept to local community members, to provide an update on the progress being made toward the cafe’s opening, and to give those who wish to help an opportunity to lend their support, One Acre Cafe will host a free introductory event Saturday at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, beginning at 6 p.m.
The evening will include finger foods and refreshments from Jonesborough’s Main Street Cafe and Catering, a silent auction, live music by Ben Jones of The Scapes band, and a presentation from Renee Boughman, administrative chef at the F.A.R.M. (Food for All Regardless of Means) Cafe that opened last year in Boone, N.C.
“It’s to raise awareness. But of course the idea is that people will donate in some way, shape or form,” said Jan Orchard, a project founder who will serve as cafe’s executive director.
Bryan Orchard, a One Acre Cafe board member and youth minister at Gray United Methodist Church who introduced the project to members of the Appalachian Regional Coalition on Homelessness in August, said everyone will be able to eat at the cafe regardless of their ability to pay and to gain job skills and experience in food service and restaurant management by volunteering there.
Diners will include those who can afford to pay and wish to positively impact the lives of others less fortunate as well as those who cannot pay but can work one hour at the cafe in exchange for their meal, he said.
The cafe’s mission is to provide “sufficient, safe and nutritious meals in an environment where all members of the community are welcomed. The menu will feature dishes prepared with locally grown produce and offered in three proportions to eliminate food waste, at affordable prices ranging from $5 to $10.
Since the August ARCH meeting, Summit Leadership Foundation has taken the cafe under its nonprofit umbrella while its application for 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax status is processed. A board of directors has been established. About $10,000 in seed money has been raised and organizers have looked at several downtown locations available for lease.
Bryan Orchard said a downtown location will put the cafe in proximity to the population group it hopes to serve and to East Tennessee State University and the wealth of volunteers the university provides.
More information about the cafe and the Saturday benefit can be found at oneacrecafe.org, at the One Acre Cafe Facebook page, or by calling Jan Orchard at 833-8033 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling Michelle Watts, cafe administrator, at 218-7900 or emailing email@example.com.
For those who cannot attend the event but wish to help, tax deductible donations may be made by mail to P.O. Box 3411, Johnson City, TN 37602. Checks should be made payable to Summit Leadership Foundation and earmarked for One Acre Cafe.