By Jordan Lappin
This week, we are highlighting A Place at the Table in Raleigh, NC!
A Place at the Table is a pay-what-you-can cafe located in downtown Raleigh--one of 61 cafes across the entire US. A Place at the Table was founded by Maggie Kane in 2013; she grew up volunteering at soup kitchens and began to notice several things as a young and curious child: “One thing that always struck me as strange was why I was the one serving this food across the line to a kid who looked just like me. We would scoop out whatever we had prepared that day, sometimes chicken, sometimes pork, and serve it to a kid that looked just like me.” After graduating from college, Maggie decided to take the nonprofit route where her passion lies.
“One in seven people are food insecure in Raleigh! That’s one in seven people in your row. Think about it that way. One in five children are hungry. That is not okay! Knowing these numbers and getting to know so many incredible people experiencing poverty, I knew I needed to do something about it.”
And Maggie did do something about it. She opened the second pay-what-you-can-cafe in North Carolina. A Place at the Table is an alternative to the standard soup kitchen model. A Place at the Table feels like a real restaurant… because it is a real restaurant. When you walk in you smell fresh baked pastry items and the smell of bacon. You hear music playing. People gather with friends and family and partake in conversation over a quality meal. What makes A Place at the Table Different from other restaurants however, is that once you get up to the register and order your meal, the person working the register says, “your suggested price is…would you like to pay that price, less, or volunteer for your meal?”
Suggested pricing means just that. You can choose to pay that price, pay more, and pay it forward for someone else who can’t afford their meal. You can also pay less if that is all you have. The key feature of A Place at the Table is that you can pay by volunteering. Maggie Kane says that nearly 40 to 60 people per day are signed up to volunteer or are volunteering for their meal. The mission of A Place at the Table is clear: to provide community and good food for all, regardless of means. “We eat together. And we volunteer together.”
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Jordan Hannan and Jordan Lappin