The Community Café is a local non-profit 501-C3 organization. The purpose is to provide the children to elderly, low income families, and people with disabilities with a FREE and more importantly a healthy meal with a sense of social connection. In addition the Community Café provides meals to other area organizations such as; Grace House, Youth for Christ (Ground Floor), and the Boys and Girls Club of Deer River.
The Community Cafe meals are available to anyone who is in need. There is no income or other financial qualification for a free meal. Each Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30 a nutritious three course meal is served. With the availability of low cost transportation, several patrons who would not be able to get to the Community Cafe are able to attend. “Take Out” meals are also available after 5:30 and/ or based on availability (or for specialty services like Grace House and Youth for Christ)
The Empty Bowls event, going on its tenth year in 2012, is a fundraising event partnering the Community Cafe, Second Harvest Food Bank, and Macrostie Art Center. While the proceeds do not benefit MAC, their partnership is crucial in making the event happen. Ceramic bowls are made for auction and for purchase with a meal. Besides raising money for the two non-profits, each “empty bowl” signifies someone in need of a meal. This event generated just over $8,000.00 in 2011.
GRILLS Gone Wild started in 2010 in collaboration with Kurt Ogle of Marketplace foods, and John Weber of Community Café brainstorming an effective way to raise money for a good cause. It has since become an Ogle’s Marketplace Foods promotion benefiting the Community Café and ElderCircle. The event includes a lunch sale and grilling contest where people can show off their grilling techniques and community members can taste the various flavors and judge the best entry. This event raised over $3,500 for Community Café in 2010 and 2011. Other events and activities include; Volunteer Appreciation, 2011 Patron picnic week, “Every Penny Counts Round up” at Ogles Marketplace Foods and Community Connect.
Patron Statistics are recorded on a nightly basis. Data is collected each and every meal day by having patrons sign in with their name, zip code & age. At the end of each month the data is calculated and put into a spreadsheet based on geographic location. Demographically, patrons’ range in age from newborns to seniors, developmentally or physically disabled individuals, and people who may be in a life transition with employment or housing issues. The Grand Rapids Community Café trends toward older adult patrons. The elderly often cannot qualify for other services yet have more expensive medical issues that affect their financial well being. The Deer River Community Café has a regular senior clientele, as well as a great Boys and Girls Club who frequent. Other patrons come from many different communities throughout Itasca County including Coleraine, Taconite, Jacobson, Hill City, Cohasset, Bigfork and everywhere in between.
The Community Café board considers longevity, community service, and continued community support to be its most important accomplishments. The Community Café serves the most fundamental need for life, food. According to a study done in 2010 of Itasca County, 1 in 6 people in our local communities go hungry every day. Based off of this information in Itasca County, a Population of 45,058 (as of 2010), over 7500 people are in need of some sort of food assistance, whether it be vouchers for use at a grocery store, qualification to receive food from the food shelf or the need for a full meal at the Community Café.