This social enterprise, a partnership between Elijah’s Promise and Who Is My Neighbor? Inc., hopes to make healthy eating accessible and affordable for all. A Better World Cafe follows a community cafe model pioneered by Denise Cerreta of One World Everybody Eats in Salt Lake City, Utah.

This new kind of cafe reduces food waste, since customers choose their own portion sizes. It reduces trash because it does not use Styrofoam cups, plastic utensils, or paper plates. And it helps global neighbors because the coffees and teas are fairly traded. The cafe uses seasonal foods–grown, cooked, and served in ways that make sense for the environment and for the customer’s budget.

You select your portions and pay a fair price through one of the following options:
You may pay the suggested price or something better. If you pay more, you will help feed someone else who has more limited resources.
You may volunteer an hour of time in exchange for a meal.
You may dine on the complimentary dish of the day if you can neither pay nor volunteer.
You may use the complimentary dish as one of your selections when you are selecting multiple items, to help keep your total cost down.

In the News

Most recent media coverage:
The New York Times, Sunday, November 23, 2014

February 2010: Nation’s first summit for community kitchens

People representing A Better World Café led several workshops at the nation’s first summit for community kitchens, held in New Orleans Jan. 16 -17. WIMNI Board President Tina Weishaus found it uplifting “being among like-minded people from all over the country, interested in creating places where rich and poor come together to eat”.

Many attendees were exploring how to open a pay-what-you-can-afford cafe in their own cities. Non-profit eateries from Salt Lake City, Denver, Seattle, and Highland Park, NJ offered assistance and shared their experiences. Better World’s head chef, Rachel Weston, presented popular sessions on cooking seasonally, while Better World’s financial director, Matthew Borgen, presented an index of reality tests for dream-stage teams to understand the operational steps and time commitment that will precede success.

“Matt helped people understand that being good cooks is only a small part of opening a restaurant. After hearing his talk, teams from some cities decided they need to go to culinary school before setting up their nonprofit café,” Weishaus stated. The conference was organized by the Denise Cerreta, who founded the nation’s oldest community kitchen, One World Everybody Eats, in 2003.

Although Denver, CO has its SAME (So All May Eat) Café, five other teams from the Denver area were at the conference exploring ways to get community kitchens going in their own parts of the metro area. Washington DC, Baltimore, and several North Carolina cities had multiple teams investigating. Several from rural areas in Pennsylvania and Indiana were also there considering how to do it in their localities.

Weishaus stated: “We now understand how unique we are. No other café project in the country came together as two nonprofits creating a partnership. The wealth of experience flowing to our café from (Elijah’s Promise) Culinary School, Promise Catering, and the strengths of both nonprofits (WIMNI and EP) is not duplicated anywhere else.”

A Better World Café will join with other community kitchens around the nation to celebrate World Food Day Oct. 16, 2010 in a project that will highlight the progress of the community café movement, of which A Better World Café is now a guiding force.

December 2009:

NJN News coverage of A Better World Cafe

This report is made available by NJN News, December 30, 2009. Used with permission.

August 2009:

Planning to open October in the Quilt Room of the Reformed Church of Highland Park, serving lunch Mon-Fri 11-3. A project between Who Is My Neighbor and Elijah’s Promise Culinary School, the café will serve locally grown foods, fresh from NJ gardens, orchards, farms, & shore. The soups, breads, salads, entrees, sandwiches and desserts, made at the Culinary School under the guidance of a master chef & brought here daily, will be healthy creative cuisine: seasonal foods grown, cooked, and served in ways that make sense for the environment and for the customer’s budget.

This café follows a model pioneered in Salt Lake City. (There it is called One World Everybody Eats.) A Better World Cafe in Highland Park, NJ will be the 5th community café in the USA. This new kind of café reduces food waste, since people take only the amount they want and pay only for what they take. It reduces trash because it does not use Styrofoam cups, plastic utensils, or paper plates, and it helps our global neighbors because the coffees and teas are fairly traded. It makes healthy food available to and affordable by more people. These and other features add up to sustainability.

An uncommon feature of the café is flexible prices: customers control their own portion sizes, and decide the price by paying what they feel is fair. Those who cannot pay with money may exchange an hour of volunteer work for their meal. Other volunteers participate as well. The café will also employ skilled workers who have been trained at Elijah’s Promise Culinary School. Thus the project creates jobs at a livable wage.

A nonprofit social enterprise, the cafe will generate revenue to help support the two partner organizations, and will pay rent to RCHP, helping the church meet its budget. Similar to how WIMNI launched the fair trade store, the café’s start-up location in the church is temporary, with the goal of growing the money to move into a larger facility where the cooking can be done on site, extend hours and days, and employ more people.

Board members Mary Caterson, Irene Marx, and Pauline Devonish traveled to Salt Lake City this summer to research the operations of the community café there.

Starting up the café inside the church building gives us our best opportunity to hold costs down, and involves a creative sharing of space. The Sewing Circle of the Reformed Church of Highland Park has used the Quilt Room on Thursdays for the past hundred years and will continue to do so; on Thursdays the café will set up in the social hall, returning to the Quilt Room for Fridays. (Groups that meet in the Quilt Room evenings and weekends will continue to do so.)

To volunteer on this project or for further information, call WIMNI’s Director Jean Stockdale at (732) 247-3700.