For the second time in my life, I had the good fortune to eat lunch among friends at Boone, North Carolina’s extraordinary F.A.R.M. Café. F.A.R.M. stands for Feed All Regardless of Means and it is one of nearly 50 cafes in the U.S. that allow customers to all eat the same food at whatever level of support/payment they can offer.
Ninety percent of the cafe’s workforce that is 90% volunteer to serve its customers, and some of those 700 individuals are “food insecure” who offer an hour or more of work for each meal they share with other guests. Renee Boughman, Executive Chef has been building community through this collaborative process for six years.
Rev. Tommy Boughman coordinates volunteers and takes care of philanthropic “development” to keep it innovating. He offered these comments on their values: “Everything we do is about building community. The meal is just the starting point. People may be hungry at different or multiple levels. By offering an open table, we break down the barriers between people so that some can come out of the isolation that is tied to being hungry. This helps some of the people to get out of the position that got them into poverty or food insecurity in the first place. But when people who have been down on their luck sit down next to a lawyer or a doctor or an educator or student and eat together, all at the table find to their amazement that they face some of the same issues: addictions devastating family members; fear of violence; or other issues. Everyone at the table wants everyone else to succeed, and they often reach out to help one another.”
Brother Coyote, OEF