Tuesday, May 30, 2023

SAME Cafe Toledo chairperson speaks at St. Paul’s

After a year of “Zoom”ing along, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church held the first of a new series of First Thursday lunch speeches on October 7 with a visit by Steve North, founder of LifeLine Toledo and the chairperson of the SAME Cafe Toledo Advisory Board.

North discussed the ongoing process of bringing SAME Cafe— a participation-based restaurant founded in Denver, Colorado in 2006, aimed at providing healthy meals to all who need them— to the Toledo area.

SAME Cafe— SAME stands for “So All May Eat”— is an eatery where guests volunteer their time, give fresh produce or donate money in exchange for a meal. No one is turned away if they are hungry.

North talked about how he was visiting Denver three years ago to see a friend, and on a whim decided to eat at SAME Cafe.

“As soon as I walked in, I stopped dead in my tracks,” North said. “And I said, ‘This is Toledo. This belongs in Toledo.’”

Steve North.

North has worked to bring a location to the northwest Ohio area consistently ever since, including conversations with Brad Reubendale, executive director of Denver’s SAME Cafe. Finally, after the Cafe’s fundraising efforts went “through the roof” in 2020 during the pandemic, the infusion of donations allowed the company to officially greenlight a second location in Toledo.

North discussed the efforts to find an appropriate home for the project, and stated that his team was very close to securing “the ideal location,” but he wasn’t able to reveal exactly where just yet.

“The one that we wanted at the very beginning, which was not available at the time, suddenly was made available to us, and we’re about to sign a memorandum of agreement, and we’ll be able to announce it publicly soon,” he said.

North also answered questions from the two dozen attendees at the lunch, adding that the Cafe will only be open for lunchtime hours, and that the first meal of Toledo’s SAME Cafe will be served in the spring of 2022.

“SAME Cafe is a beautiful thing both for the people who need the mission, who suffer with food insecurity, and for people who love the mission, who have means and want to support what’s going on,” he said.

St. Paul’s First Thursday lunches feature speakers who address critical issues in the Toledo area and around the world. The next event is scheduled for November 4, with a presentation by Elizabeth Ellis of Toledo Design Collective, who will look at the City of Toledo’s plans for vacant commercial and residential spaces.

For more information on SAME Cafe Toledo or to volunteer to help, visit https://www.soallmayeat.org/toledo.

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