When I'm not working online here at Utne Reader, I cook
at a natural foods co-op. We try to use as much organic produce as
we can, cook very little meat (no red meat at all), and cater to a
variety of special diets. All in all, I feel pretty darn good about
the place. But then, there is the nagging reminder that so many
folks can't afford to eat at a place like mine, and we aren't doing
a whole lot to change that. Why should folks care that the chicken
is organic and free range if they can't afford to nibble a
This month Baltimore-based youth Webzine Horizon taps into this concern with a feature on restaurants and food distributors that give something back to those in need. New York City's Housing Works Used Book Café, for instance, combines 'classiness (20-foot ceilings, [a] mahogany-paneled interior, spiral staircases) with coziness (a balcony filled with bookshelves and cozy places to curl up and read) and arsty-funky-hipness (a café decorated with modern art, that serves trendy wraps and salads).' But this coffeeshop has heart, notes Brigitta Kral. Most of the staff is volunteer, and uses the proceeds to fund Housing Works, Inc., a community-based nonprofit that provides homeless folks living with AIDS a variety of support services.
At Baltimore's Sylvan Beach Café, 'The heavily sugared menu is a sweet tooth's paradise,' writes Garry Mendez. 'And the best part is that all of the items on the menu are under $5, which makes this a very attractive place to the starving-student and -artist crowds that inhabit the Mount Vernon neighborhood. Modeled after the Delancey Street Restaurant in San Francisco, the café is staffed by recovering addicts, and works with a local nonprofit, The Living Classrooms Foundation. Teens who have had trouble with the law work in the café as part of their community service.
Horizon's Do-Good Grub Guide covers restaurants in New York, California, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Washington state, providing a helpful list of nonprofit places to eat, drink, and be merry.