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Can a Community Cafe Really Make a Difference?

A Place at the Table: Pay-What-You-Can-Cafe


Written by: Tatiana Gnuva

A nonprofit community cafe, that has served over 108,000 meals, since 2018

Spotlight on North Carolina’s A Place at The Table

Community cafés can be very impactful for their communities. A Place at the Table is one such organization. The café is based in Raleigh, North Carolina and works on a pay-what-you-can-afford model. The organization is especially needed in Raleigh where 1 in 7 individuals suffer from food insecurity and 1 in 5 children do not benefit from the stability of knowing that they will have access to food on a regular basis. More generally 13.6 percent of North Carolina residents as well as 19.6 percent of the state’s children live in poverty, resulting in 10.9 percent of North Carolina residents suffering from food insecurity.

Since its creation in January 2018, A Place at the Table has served 108 000 meals to those in need. The café also serves a social purpose and strengthens community bonds. Over 80 individuals come together every day to volunteer for their meal. The organization provides a place for people in need to come enjoy a delicious and healthy meal. With the structured “Table Neighbor” program, A Place at the Table has created an easy way for generous community members to give back and contribute to the café’s mission. Table Neighbors can come partake in the café’s meals, volunteer and meet the other café customers that benefit from their donations. “Café Day” events where Table neighbors can come enjoy coffee and meet one another are frequently organized. The organization also relies on Amazon Smile, a program that allows prospective donors to support the café while shopping online at Amazon. The café’s partnership with Amazon allows a portion of proceeds to fund the café’s meals. Community members can also purchase 10-dollar Café gift cards to distribute to individuals in need. The organization hosts fun community events such as the pay-what-you-can Food Truck Rodeo which occurs once a year and entails hosting customers at a parking lot not far from the café for delicious street food. In April 2023, the café manager started the Run & Walk Club which invites café customers and benefactors to join some of the staff on Sunday walks and runs.

It is because of organizations like A Place at the Table that the United States is making inroads in the fight against food insecurity. Indeed, organizations like Feeding America reported a decrease in those living in food insecure households from 38 million in 2020 to 34 million in 2021. Food insecurity rates were also lower in children with 9 million suffering from food insecurity in 2021 compared to 12 million in 2020.

Do you think Long Island could benefit from such a cafe?

If your answer is YES, and you would like to help us create such a cafe, please get involved with our organization. Our email is

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