Every person’s life is masterfully composed of hundreds of thousands of little sentences that come together to beautifully construct their story. Sometimes in the middle of a chapter, something amazing happens when two different people find their sentences running together. Meet Maggie and Scott. Maggie was a part of Presbyterian Campus Ministries at NC State University where Scott is a pastor. They became friends and began a conversation around community, food insecurity, and how to find a place that was welcoming and inclusive for all people.
Throughout Maggie’s life, she struggled with the idea that she was able to eat in a restaurant and other people were not. She valued the sharing of healthy food with others when in restaurants or coffee shops and treasured each moment and experience she was able to have at the table with someone. She believed that all people deserved that dignified experience and believed that all people should have access to healthy, nutritious, good-for-your-soul food while building community with other people. She was left thinking daily, ‘Why do some people face the thought of where will their next meal be while walking by an affluent, popular restaurant?’
At the same time, Scott was searching for a place where community could be formed and experienced outside a formal church setting. While churches can be wonderful places of support and care, not everyone feels comfortable entering a church or religious building. In addition, due to differences and divisions, it is difficult to imagine a neutral setting where community can cross cultural and religious boundaries. It seems unfair to expect or require people of different faiths, individuals of different cultural backgrounds and persons from very different economic circumstances to have to go into someone else’s comfort zone in order to experience community. But Scott believed we could create a place that was truly “Our Place” – not your place, not my place but ours together.
Maggie began researching all these thoughts in her mind and found a larger group, One World Everybody Eats Foundation. She realized that this group, which is comprised of over 50 community cafes, was doing the work that needed to be done in Raleigh and that this was the answer for which they had all been waiting. They were helping to end hunger through pay-what-you-can community cafes. Maggie and Scott believed in their hearts that Raleigh could do this too.
And as the story goes, the rest is history.
Maggie and Scott then began to bring people together around the table (mostly at coffee shops and restaurants), to figure out how to make this possible. People became involved, jumped on board, and devoted thousands of hours to creating this nonprofit and restaurant from start to where we are now. In its first day, A Place at the Table garnered over $4300 in support from our crowdfunding campaign. The outpouring of support from the local community and beyond is overwhelming. We are well on our way to reaching our $100,000 goal! We can’t wait to see all the faces of our new friends around the table soon.
Check back in tomorrow as we check-in with how our construction is going and tell a little more about why we chose the space on Hillsborough Street!