Updated: Jan 11
When Rosemarie McCarthy happened upon a mention of the One World Everyone Eats café model in a magazine, she went looking for a cafe to volunteer. The idea of a donation-based cafe, servicing a diverse socioeconomic range and providing nutritious and delicious meals, sounded like something to which she wanted to donate her time and energy. But to her surprise, there was nowhere to volunteer in the Long Island region. With grit and determination, she decided to start the nonprofit Harmony Cafe in her community of Patchogue.
McCarthy grew up in a working-class family, where money was tight and food insecurity was a cause of stress at times. When her father was diagnosed with heart disease and suddenly unable to work, the family had to rely on food stamps to stock their pantry. The stigma and sometimes despair that accompanied of being in need, as a child have stuck with McCarthy. She hopes to create a place for people that are struggling a service that has dignity and no stigma attached to it. The food will be fresh and healthy, and taste delicious. The no price menu will be a sign of relieve and a guest can just pay what they can. She believes all people deserve healthy food in a socially engaging environment that brings harmony to all that enters. Sometimes, you just need a helping hand.
With a Bachelor’s of Science in Organizational Management from St. Joseph’s College, an Associate's Degree in Paralegal Studies, and a real estate license, McCarthy had the organizational skills and knowledge to found a non-profit that has gone on to feed thousands of people across a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Mccarthy lives in Patchogue and has one daughter that lives in Germany with her husband and both are Neuroscientist.
Since it’s beginnings in April of 2016, Harmony Cafe has been a welcoming, judgment-free space for everyone to pull up a chair and feed their bodies and souls.
Operating as a “pay-what-you-can” model, Harmony Cafe provides access to high quality food that helps to reduce food insecurity within the Patchogue and wider Long Island community. Before Covid, events were set up as communal dining, hosted at various locations, but mainly at her local VFW hall creating a vibrant social atmosphere where people from all walks of life could mingle and enjoy each other’s company while listening to live local music. Since Covid, Harmony Cafe has shifted to providing “grab-n-go” food, food drives, and free local food delivery. Hundreds of families have been nourished during such a difficult time. In November of 2020, the cafe added a new program, BOGO plant bases soup program, buy 1 soup, give 1 soup. Coming in January, a new partnership to offer vegan meals, BOGO vegan meals!
McCarthy envisions Harmony Cafe eventually having a bustling storefront cafe, where neighbors can socialize and eat in a judgment-free atmosphere. She hopes to provide a sense of pride and comfort to those in need, where food and community go hand in hand.
Mccarthy and her team of volunteers are seeking people to help bring this storefront to reality. If you have experience and the skills working on a board, fundraising, grant writing, restaurant management, health provider, even no experience but you have the passion and believe in our mission! And you will not give up because you are committed and determined to create a new way of dining, that brings hope and dignity to all that enters. Please join Harmony Cafe's small team! "Alone we can do little, together we can do so much" ~ Helen Keller.