SAME café, short for So All May Eat, started 10 years ago in Denver, Colorado with a simple premise. The food served was to be mostly organic and locally-sourced, and if you couldn’t pay for it – well that didn’t matter so much. The café was more interested in presenting healthful culinary delights to all people (regardless of their ability to pay) than making tons of money. SAME, is in fact, the first non-profit restaurant in the city, and there are few like it across the country.
Instead of visiting a cash register before you leave, you stop by a donation box and offer what you can. To some, the model seems unsustainable, but now that SAME has been in business for ten years, they’ve proven that providing food to those who are going hungry can not only be respectful, and offer dignity, but even those with cash to spare love to eat at a mindful business.
SAME works with dozens of local farms and gardeners, a slow food organization, and several community organizations, along with patron volunteers from all over the city to make their non-profit successful.
Other non-profit dining establishments are showing the world that the poor deserve good food just as much as the well-financed. Take Miriam’s Kitchen in Washington, D.C., for example. Individuals there feed the homeless with 78,000 plates a year, spending around .50 cents per plate – but serving food that even a sophisticated palate could appreciate.
Annalakshmi in Singapore has been around since the 1980s. Not only is it pay-what-you-can, but it’s all-you-can-eat. It is a vegetarian restaurant run by volunteers, and with a several-decade track record, it, too proves that feeding people soup-kitchen-style can be both luxurious and healthy.
Let’s hope more pay-as-you-may restaurants like SAME and their brethren take the world by storm. No one needs to go hungry with establishments like this working on tomorrow’s menu.