-START A PAY-AS-YOU CAN RESTAURANT-
Although the original goal of the café was to address hunger, it provides much more than food. It is a refuge for people from all walks of life, an open invitation that lets everyone know that they are important. As Renee Boughman, the founding chef, likes to say, “this is a place that allows you to practice being human.”
F.A.R.M. Café was started in 2012 with a mission to end hunger in the High Country, while creating an inclusive space to commune and enjoy delicious, locally-sourced food. Located in downtown Boone, NC, F.A.R.M. Café serves Appalachian State University students, tourists, and locals. F.A.R.M. stands for Feed All Regardless of Means, and that is exactly what they do. Serving lunch Monday through Friday, F.A.R.M. Café offers two choices of soup, a vegetarian and non-vegetarian entrée, a vegetable side, a mixed green salad, and dessert.
As a nonprofit restaurant, F.A.R.M. Café operates on a pay-what- you-can model from the One World Everybody Eats program, to ensure that everyone in the area can have access to quality meals. The kitchen staff is made up of 3 full-time employees and 15-16 daily rotating volunteers. Prices range from $7.00 a plate to $10.00 a plate, based on size. If someone can’t afford a meal, F.A.R.M. Café asks that they volunteer in the restaurant for an hour to earn their meal.
Additionally, people purchasing meals can buy wooden tokens for $10.00 that serve as meal vouchers for someone in need.
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F.A.R.M. Café has come a long way since 2012. They have turned their restaurant into a robust
community partnership of local farms, bakeries and restaurants that utilizes extra food in the
community and supports local businesses. F.A.R.M. Café receives donations from High Country CSA,
Panera Bread, Appalachian Cookie Company, The Garden Spot, Valle Crucis, and Against the Grain to
keep food waste and expenses down. For any organization trying to adopt these models, creating
partnerships with already existing places to eat, community gardens, and farms is a suitable place to
start receiving fresh, local food. F.A.R.M. Café originally was open on Saturdays, but scaled back to
weekday lunches. Starting small by serving only one type of meal or being open a few days out of the
week are manageable steps organizations can take to try this model of food access and community
engagement. The model used by F.A.R.M. Café, One World Everyone Eats, provides mentoring, trainings, and other guidance on starting a pay what you can restaurant.
A sign in front of a food truck
Four people in black aprons stand behind soup
People gathered around a table full of food