July 22, 2013
According to Feeding America, in 2011, 15% of Americans were in poverty, and with the economy still in relative stagnation things haven’t got much better. My very first project with the EEMP was to film at the One World Everybody Eats (OWEE) national conference in New Brunswick, NJ. I had not previously heard of the foundation and the trip was a superb opportunity to not only ask questions and film the work being done, but to get to know the people giving their time and expertise to help envision and create a world where nobody goes hungry.
OWEE community cafes and restaurants operate on a “pay what you can” pricing scheme. They always strive to serve seasonal, local, and organic foods, offer employees living wages, and do it all with minimal food waste. When I was invited out to film, one of the first things I noticed was how happy everyone was to be doing this great service for their communities.
While filming, we visited the FARM café in Boone, North Carolina. There was a sense of joy in the restaurant that I had never felt before. The food was delicious, the volunteers who helped cook and serve were genuinely excited to be helping out, and when it came time to pay they did not give a price but said “how much would you like to pay for your meal today”? This is, in my eyes, a fantastic solution to the often difficult question of where a hand out ends and where a hand up begins. If you weren’t able to pay for your food, you could volunteer in the kitchen and learn culinary job skills that will be useful no matter where you go. After all, you gotta eat. So why not do it with a conscience.