Grace Café is open seven days a week

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Rochelle Bayless, founder and executive director, announced that Grace Café has added Monday and Tuesday lunch service from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. starting October 17, 2016. The Café, Kentucky’s first nonprofit pay-what-you-can community café with a mission to end hunger and food insecurity in Boyle County, will now be open every day of the week. The hours will be Sunday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“This summer, with more and more people relying on the Café to stretch their food budgets, access healthier food, and often it’s the only meal some folks get that day,” said Bayless. “Last month alone we had 30 unduplicated volunteers working a total of 101 hours in exchange for a meal. That’s up 57 percent from August and 114 percent from July. And, that’s only the people we can track.” Grace Café’s innovative approach to hunger charity allows customers to access fresh, locally sourced meals on a pay-what-you-can basis through an anonymous “Birdhouse” donation system. Or, folks who cannot pay are invited to volunteer for 30 minutes in exchange for a meal. Bayless said, “This not only preserves the dignity of our customers who are economically disadvantaged, it also helps with the daily running of the Café.
Since opening in July of 2015, Grace Café has served a total of 23,515 meals and has invested more than $23,961 in local agriculture from buying direct from local farmers, growers and artesian producers. “This is critically important to our mission,” said Daniel Kirchner, the Café’s board president and professor of philosophy at Centre College. “Grace Café succeeds by closing the loop between the needs of food producers and the needs of consumers in our local area. We by-pass the industrial food system that produces unhealthy food and fills the pockets of corporations, and we develop independence from reliance on institutional food charity. But to effectively achieve the closing of the loop, we need to be able to assure local farmers that they will have a market for their products, and we need to provide community members who are food insecure a consistent and reliable source for healthy food. Opening seven days a week moves us in the direction of meeting both needs more thoroughly.”
The need for hunger relief in our community is significant. According to Feeding America’s Map the Gap 2015 report, 17.1 percent or 4,920 people are considered food insecure in Boyle County. Slightly more than 18 percent live below the federal poverty level, meaning a family of four lives on a yearly income of about $31,000. In Danville, one in four residents is considered food insecure including 25 percent of its children (Kentucky Health Rankings). Families struggling with hunger develop a wide array of coping strategies - eating cheaper, unhealthy food, scavenging, eating food past its expiration date, or managing on only one meal a day. Of those served by Kentucky food banks, an estimated 67 percent of households reported that they had to choose between paying for food and utilities, and 63 percent chose between paying for food and transportation (Hunger in America, 2014).  
“These are the people Grace Café strives to serve in the community by providing a viable, dignified means for hunger relief, said Bayless. “Food insecurity is a fancy term the USDA created to describe someone who is worried about how they are going to feed themselves or their families. When folks have to make hard choices with little resources, food is often a last priority. When money is tight people will seek out the cheapest calorie they can find. And, those calories come in the form of processed foods, fast foods – foods high in saturated fat, sugar and preservatives. All of which contribute to poor health, low energy, low productivity, and ultimately higher health care costs for everyone.”
Currently, the Café receives 62.5 percent of its operating expenses from in-Café meal donations after only 14 months of operation. The remaining 37.5 percent comes from individual donors, corporate sponsors, funders and special events. The goal of the Café is to become 75 percent self-sustaining over the next 12 months.
To date, Grace Café has the support of 289 individual donors 10 local faith communities, and 14 national, state and local corporate partners and funders including: TJX Foundation, Hobart Corp., KY Welfare Foundation, Trim Masters Foundation, Farmer’s National Bank, Community Trust Bank, Bluegrass Chiro, Stuart Powell Lincoln/Ford/Mazda, and the National Christian Foundation.
Grace Café is located at 219 S. 4th Street, in Danville. For more information, or to make a tax-deductible donation, please visit www.gracecafeky.org or call the Café at 859-209-2529.