Community Kitchen Fights Hunger One Meal at a Time
There’s a place in the Piedmont where you can enjoy a good meal and pay for it with a little elbow grease.In downtown Boone on King Street, there’s a unique eatery called F.A.R.M. Café. The word F.A.R.M. is an acronym for Feed All Regardless of Means. It opened in 2012 as a nonprofit with the mission of battling hunger in the High Country, which has an estimated population of about 40,000.
Tommy Brown, the group’s marketing committee chairperson, says “There’s about one out of four people in the High Country, and a lot of those are children are struggling with food insecurity and this is a way to integrate them, to include them in coming out to eat, get a good meal in the middle of the day and be a part of the community instead of being segregated or isolated.”
The café occupies part of the old Downtown Boone Drug Pharmacy and volunteers use locally grown and donated food for the lunch menu. Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. they serve full a coursemeal including soup, salad, entrée, sides, desert and beverage.“We have a small lunch plate and the suggested donation is between $5-$7. We have a regular lunch plate with a suggested donation of $8-$10," explains Brown. "If you pay then you’re being subsidized. If you pay more you’re helping others.”
According to Brown about 20 percent of their customers live below the national poverty level. That means, a family of four earns less than $25,000. As a result, many volunteer to work and pay for their meal. “Everyday we have positions available in the dish room, serving line, greeting customers, helping to prep tomorrow’s meal. There’s always something to do.”Friday, F.A.R.M. Café will host a fundraiser, The Real Good Party at Harvest House in Boone to help cover some of the group’s expenses. The non-profit has an annual budget of about $250,000. Brown says since the café opened two years ago, about 40,000 meals have been sold. Roughly 5,000 were given away or people donated their time to pay for their meal. Harvest House is at 247 Boone Heights Drive in Boone, North Carolina.