Raleigh Restaurant Fights Food Insecurity

A Place at the Table welcomes all.

Visit Raleigh

A Place at the Table welcomes all.

  A Place at the Table is Raleigh’s first pay-what-you-can restaurant. The cafe opened in 2018, after lots of hard work from Executive Director Maggie Kane, who believes that fighting food insecurity does not have to look like a traditional soup kitchen.

  A Place at the Table is one of the many restaurants in the One World Everybody Eats program, which strives to address food insecurity with dignity and community. “What do you do when you want to get to know your friends more? You eat with them,” states Kane in her TedTalk lecture.

  Building community and allowing everybody to feel seen and welcome are principles that are evidently incorporated into the design of A Place at the Table, with pre-COVID “community tables” encouraging diners to sit with people they don’t know and strike up a conversation.

  Customers are offered many options to pay for their meal during the pandemic, including paying the suggested price, paying at least $3 for their meal, or paying using a token from a non-profit. A Place at the Table also offers the option to “pay it forward,” tipping extra to help pay for someone else’s meal, and purchasing $10 tokens to hand out locally. 

  “Food is one thing that all people have in common– regardless of our backgrounds, wealth or poverty, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other category that could divide us– we all need to eat. A Place at the Table provides a place where all people, regardless of means, can enjoy a good meal together with dignity,” says Cliff Britt, a former member of the Board of Directors at the cafe.

  Since the reopening in October, A Place at the Table is serving customers both over the phone and at their curbside-ordering station.

  During the pandemic, A Place at the Table shifted their focus to not only creating a larger volume of meals, but meals of quality. “While some families are thriving in this economic environment, others have been crippled by the financial impact of the pandemic,” states Sanderson Assistant Principal and Equity Team director Trenton Brown, “Access to wholesome meals are necessities to build a strong, healthy and productive society.”

  There are many ways for community members to support the cafe during the pandemic when volunteering is not an option, such as making a one-time donation, becoming a monthly sustainer, or selecting A Place at the Table on Amazon Smile.

  Brown explores the impact this style of restaurant has on our community, “A pay-what-you-can restaurant empowers those that are privileged to give more, thereby creating a more thoughtful and generous society that considers the needs of others. This will foster connections and bridge the gap between those that are financially fortunate and those that experience economic hardships.”

  The menu utilizes many local ingredients and offers gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan alternatives. Customers can choose breakfast and lunch meal options such as turkey bacon avocado sandwiches, homestyle chicken noodle soup, and hot or iced coffee. 

  A Place at the Table is located in Downtown Raleigh at 300 W Hargett St #50 and is open Wednesday through Sunday every week for contactless-curbside pickup.