By Sarah Mausert
There’s a new restaurant in Raleigh that is doing some inspiring work that I highly recommend you go check out. A Place at the Table, which has been in development for three years, opened last month in downtown Raleigh. It’s the first pay what you can restaurant in the Triangle; one of about sixty in the U.S. opened in conjunction with One World Everybody Eats.
The mission of A Place at the Table is to provide community and healthy food for all regardless of means. You may be wondering how this works. There is a menu posted with suggested donation prices for each item. You can pay what you can afford, you can pay the suggested price plus extra to help support another meal, or pay by volunteering. There is a token jar by the register, if you can’t afford to pay, take a token and use it to pay for your meal; if you’d like to donate a meal, pay for a token and place it in the jar. Blue Cross NC is generously supporting the mission by donating over $100,000 to provide 20 meals per day for 365 days. The café uses local and seasonal ingredients as much as possible and has numerous vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options.
This isn’t just about feeding people though, it’s also about building community. A Place at the Table strives to provide dignity to all of its patrons. Maggie Kane, executive director, told a story about a man who comes in everyday to eat and volunteer and considers everyone at the café his family. “People long for a community and a place to feel welcome. We are able to provide that sense of fellowship over food.” Chef Sean Degnan of Buku restaurant who serves on the board of directors for A Place at the Table said of the café, “Every day there’s a moment that makes someone tear up.”
Food security is a serious issue in the Triangle and North Carolina. One in seven Triangle residents has limited access to nutritious food and North Carolina is among the top ten food insecure states in the U.S. In fact, 1.5 million residents of this state struggle to buy fresh and affordable foods.
To highlight these issues Blue Cross NC will present Thrive NC, a two-day food festival and summit to discuss North Carolina’s food challenges. Thrive NC will take place May 10th and 11th in Raleigh’s City Market. May 10th will feature the Thrive NC Summit where food systems experts will discuss childhood obesity, access to fresh and healthy food, as well as ongoing food insecurity. May 10th and 11th there will be a food festival with live music featuring chefs from 50 North Carolina restaurants serving food and drinks. On Friday, May 11th, there will be a special community service effort, open to the public, which will focus on access to fresh and healthy food. Tickets for the food festival will go on sale February 28th.
A Place at the Table is located at 300 W. Hargett St., Suite 50 and is open Tuesday through Friday 7AM-2PM and Saturday and Sunday 8 AM-3PM. Head to downtown Raleigh and buy a meal for yourself and someone else.
Author: Sarah was born a yankee, but has been a Durhamite for ten years now. She enjoys red wine, bourbon, her dogs, Captain and Morgan, and her cats, Johnny and Walker.