Goals and Missions

Some people have their epiphanies while they run or garden or lie in fresh cut fields – someplace where the mind is free to wander and eventually hits on something enlightening. Mine tend to come in the shower – not that you really need to know that – but I was looking for a good way to intro this post, and sharing where and when my moments of realization happen seemed like a good place to start.

So, this morning’s piece of introspective illumination is that, to paraphrase C3-PO, I am NOT a good story teller. I can write – I’ve been told some of my business writing is really good. When I sit down to write letters or this blog, or even a few bits for a Face Book post, what I’m thinking and what I want to say get all tangled up in the emotions. I start to ramble and have trouble making sense of the ideas that seemed really powerful and witty in my head.

I have friends that write, I read their stuff and wish I could emulate their process so that I had words that could move mountains. Need a letter of recommendation, business proposal, instruction manual? I’m all over that – but for those of you who read this blog, even just as a means to get to the monthly menu, allow me to apologize for my ramblings and thank you for tolerating them!

Why, then, have I written 3 paragraphs explaining why I feel I can’t write? Because I have something VERY important to note this month, and I’m hoping if you understand HOW I write, you’ll be able to read this post with more understanding.

All Are Welcome is, first and foremost a hunger relief mission. It is our goal to ensure that EVERYONE has access to a healthy, filling and tasty meal. Whether they need that meal once in a while to fill a gap between paychecks or if there just doesn’t ever seem to be enough money for food, or just to get some variety from the staples and supplies provided by traditional assistance programs.

Beyond hunger relief, there are so many more things we hope to offer – a sense of community, a feeling of belonging, real world and job experience for some of our student volunteers, a chance to learn a few kitchen skills or tips. The list in my mind is endless.

But HUNGER RELIEF is first, how we do that, how I envision us doing that and what others see us doing are all part of the package.

Hunger in America. It’s been around for a long time – and it’s not going away. Food pantries are overwhelmed, SNAP benefits were given a supplemental increase – and then summarily decreased late last year. The cost of food BASICS – milk, bread, fruits and veggies, meat – keep going up. Seniors who want to retire have to look at serious cuts in budgets between private, job provided insurance and the out of pocket expenses for Medicare. Grandparents who are now raising their grandkids have limited resources and incomes. Families who barely make ends meet already are finding it harder and harder. Circumstances have changed the “face of hunger”. What is this Face of Hunger we hear about? These days…that face is you and me. Unless you’re sitting on a multi-million dollar trust fund, budget cuts, overseas relocation, corporate outsourcing all mean that anyone could be out of work, depleting meager savings accounts and struggling to put a meal on the table at any time.

Something as distant as the issues in corporate Market Basket has a major impact on folks who never expected to face hunger (food insecurity) issues. Take a few minutes to read Face Book postings, Twitter feeds, blogs, and news articles. The near shut down of this major grocery chain, which featured good pricing and enabled food dollars to go further has had a serious impact on local shoppers. Forced to shop at higher priced chains, grocery budgets don’t go as far, causing hard decisions for those who have been just getting by.

At All Are Welcome, folks who are struggling can come in and get fed and know for one night at least, they don’t have to be hungry. Because we can’t feed every hungry person three meals a day, seven days a week, and we don’t have a direct impact on breaking the cycle of hunger, our program is considered emergency relief. Emergency relief is good…it’s certainly better than NO relief. And because we’re there, doing what we do twice per week, we are consistent relief; those who need nourishment know when and where to find us!

So far in 2014 we have served an average of 307 meals PER MONTH. For a restaurant that’s open only 2 days per week, that’s a lot of meals! We know that all of those meals are not folks in need – we have our fabulous supporters who come and eat at our restaurant to keep support (and funding) for our mission going strong.

So, after this lengthy post, there must be a point, right? The point is we need your help. We need volunteers to help keep the program running…we need more folks to come and eat and donate to keep providing the portion of those 307 meals to those who need them…and we need to reach a more members our community who don’t know about our program, who are embarrassed to join us at All Are Welcome and who don’t understand how we operate, making them hesitant to visit us!

We are researching grant funding, we’re looking into passive funding and looking into reaching out for more direct donation opportunities. Watch for more on these soon, to help us grow. In the meantime, when you see an article on hunger, or grocery price increases, or budget cuts affecting any public assistance program, please remember that these are the issues that create a need for All Are Welcome and that your neighbors, grandparents, sisters, brothers, and even yourselves may be only one step away from being the Face of Hunger. When you see the posts, read the news, receive the Tweets, consider All Are Welcome and how we are working to help – and consider how you could help us build community…one meal at a time.