From The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Blog
Friday, November 5th, 2010
Based in New Brunswick, NJ, Elijah’s Promise is much more than an emergency food service. From nutritious meals, to social services and health screening, as well as culinary arts job training and catering, Elijah’s Promise focuses not just on hunger but on the whole person.
When Elijah’s Promise submitted an application to us this year, we were impressed with their attention to the land-people-food connections in their work. Not only have they made a commitment to the buy fresh, buy local movement, they have put great effort toward convincing other New Jersey emergency food services to offer fresh, local foods to their clients as well. In fact, thanks to Elijah’s Promise, seven percent of the $1 million in purchases at the Tri-County Auction (the Central Jersey farmers’ produce market) is now made by emergency food providers.
Elijah’s Promise is also creating local gardens to supplement the food they purchase from area farmers, including a land lease at Honey Brook Organic Farm in Pennington, New Jersey (the country’s largest CSA located on land owned by StonyBrook-Millstone Watershed Association). This effort increases the connection between people and their food, develops skills and job pathways for local residents, and helps Elijah’s Promise explore the best of urban growing models.
In addition, the urban produce will help supply Elijah’s “Community Café,” which extends their sustainability principles and practices deeper into the community.
The Better World Café, one of a handful of community cafes in the country, is located in the Quilt Room of the Reformed Church of Highland Park and represents a social enterprise partnership between Elijah’s Promise and Who Is My Neighbor? Inc.
The café model is based on preparing and serving seasonal foods in ways that can be adapted to various customer budgets. Customers may pay a suggested price or something different. If customers pay more, they help feed someone else who has more limited resources. There are also options for volunteering time in exchange for a meal, dining on the complimentary dish of the day, or combining the complimentary dish as part of an overall meal. The model is also built on helping global neighbors by sourcing fair trade coffees and teas.
And all of this is only part of their work. You can see why we’re impressed – and why Elijah’s Promise is so important to a strong local food system for the people in and near New Brunswick.
If you live in New Brunswick or have an interest in food systems work, we want to bring your attention to the “Good Food For All” event on December 11th. All are welcome to come learn about and discuss together the issues related to creating a stronger local food system in New Brunswick. The event features guest speaker Mark Winne (Closing the Food Gap, Food Rebels), workshops and other activities. You can see the full details of the event here.
November's issue of Inside Jersey (Star Ledger publication) reviews A Better World Cafe!
"I don't have adequate space to rave about my meal of a grilled cheddar and balsamic tomato sandwich accompanied by a grilled peach salad tossed in tarragon dressing. To me, this is what the slow food movement is all about."
Pick up a copy today to read the full article, featured in the Edible Exit column. Reviewed by Frank Remshifski.
"In a world where a bite of fast food is cheaper than fresh fruits and vegetables, processed goods line the walls of food banks and soup kitchen gruel lacks key nutrients, being low-income means running on a toxin-rich diet.
But at the SAME (So All May Eat) Café in Denver, Colo., customers can walk in with empty wallets and leave nourished by healthy, organic food that otherwise would have broken their budgets. Rather than setting prices, the SAME Café invites customers to pay whatever price they think is fair or volunteer in exchange for a meal. "
Read the full article at Reject Apathy.
This report is made available by NJN News, December 30, 2009. Used with permission.
People representing A Better World Café led several workshops at the nation’s first summit for community kitchens, held in New Orleans Jan. 16 -17. WIMNI Board President Tina Weishaus found it uplifting “being among like-minded people from all over the country, interested in creating places where rich and poor come together to eat”.
Many attendees were exploring how to open a pay-what-you-can-afford cafe in their own cities. Non-profit eateries from Salt Lake City, Denver, Seattle, and Highland Park, NJ offered assistance and shared their experiences. Better World’s head chef, Rachel Weston, presented popular sessions on cooking seasonally, while Better World’s financial director, Matthew Borgen, presented an index of reality tests for dream-stage teams to understand the operational steps and time commitment that will precede success.
“Matt helped people understand that being good cooks is only a small part of opening a restaurant. After hearing his talk, teams from some cities decided they need to go to culinary school before setting up their nonprofit café,” Weishaus stated. The conference was organized by the Denise Cerreta, who founded the nation’s oldest community kitchen, One World Everybody Eats, in 2003.
Although Denver, CO has its SAME (So All May Eat) Café, five other teams from the Denver area were at the conference exploring ways to get community kitchens going in their own parts of the metro area. Washington DC, Baltimore, and several North Carolina cities had multiple teams investigating. Several from rural areas in Pennsylvania and Indiana were also there considering how to do it in their localities.
Weishaus stated: “We now understand how unique we are. No other café project in the country came together as two nonprofits creating a partnership. The wealth of experience flowing to our café from (Elijah’s Promise) Culinary School, Promise Catering, and the strengths of both nonprofits (WIMNI and EP) is not duplicated anywhere else.”
A Better World Café will join with other community kitchens around the nation to celebrate World Food Day Oct. 16, 2010 in a project that will highlight the progress of the community café movement, of which A Better World Café is now a guiding force.
ABC 7 Eyewitness News:
The Star Ledger:
A workshop with Geoff Tansey
Sunday November 1, 2009
Reformed Church of Highland Park
9am – 10am
Geoff Tansey and his family live in the UK in a small village near Manchester, England. He is an internationally recognized authority on the many policy issues relating to food use and production. He was the founding editor of the Dutch publication Food Technology, and was for 5 years a UK agricultural advisor to the Turkish government. He and his family lived in Turkey for those five years. He has for many years worked with the Quakers out of Geneva, Switzerland, studying and lecturing around the world on issues of food policy. He is a frequent contributor to the World Bank on international food policy.
Geoff is currently working for a fair and sustainable food system as one of six UK Joseph Rowntree Visionaries for a Just and Peaceful World. This one-time, five year appointment is somewhat of a UK equivalent to the MacArthur "Genuis" Awards in this country. The six Rowntree Awards were in celebration of the Rowntree Chocolate Company's centennial and in keeping with the spirit of the founder's Quaker background.
Geoff is a
member and Trustee of the UK's Food Ethics Council. He has published
numerous articles in academic journals and in the popular press and
has edited two books on food issues. His latest book, The Future
Control of Food: A Guide to International Negotiations and Rules on
Intellectual Property, Biodiversity, and Food Security, received a
Prize in the Guild of Food Writers Awards 2009.