Monday, October 26, 2009

A Better World Café

By Pat Tanner

The folks at two area non-profits with missions to help the less fortunate of our neighbors have launched a delicious new joint venture: a community café serving seasonal local fare, where customers decide what price is fair and where those who cannot pay with money may exchange an hour of volunteer time for their meal.

A Better World Café is a collaboration between Elijah’s Promise and Who Is My Neighbor, and is the only the fifth so-called community cafe in the nation - and the first east of the Mississippi. Every Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. it serves a multi-cultural menu of simple, healthy soups, breads, salads, sandwiches, and desserts in an attractive Arts-and-Crafts style room in the Reformed Church of Highland Park, which is where Who Is My Neighbor is based.

The fresh, sustainable fare, all sourced from within a 50-mile radius, is made at Elijah’s Promise Culinary School in New Brunswick and transported daily to the café. The school provides intensive training for skilled employment in the food service industry. Workers from the school and (unpaid) volunteers staff the cafe.

Last month, Elijah’s Promise put together a tasting of some of the dishes now on the autumn menu – to universal rave reviews, including from this correspondent. Creamy butternut squash soup with horseradish cream…a creative and improbably delicious sandwich of roasted beets and goat cheese in whole-wheat pita…and pear strudel with caramel sauce went well beyond the promised “simple” fare.

Styrofoam, plastic, and paper plates and utensils are banned here, and only free-trade coffees and teas are served. The church room is intended to be the café’s temporary home. The goal is that demand will necessitate a facility of its own, as well as extended hours and, hence, the employment of more Elijah’s Promise graduates.

A Better World Café
The Quilt Room in the Reformed Church of Highland Park
19 South Second Ave.
Highland Park

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A Better World Cafe sells fair trade coffee.