As we head into Thanksgiving, I really wanted to make my last appeal on behalf of an organization that provides food for those in need. I couldn’t have found a better non-profit than The SAME Cafe in Denver, Colorado.
Inspired by their background in community service, as well as a visit to Salt Lake City’s One World Cafe, Brad and Libby Birky invested $30,000 into creating The SAME Cafe in 2006.
SAME is an acronym. It stands for So All May Eat. Their motto is “Making healthy, organic food available to all”.
The SAME Cafe offers food to all, inviting patrons to pay what they can or what they feel their meal was worth. They also accept a half-hour of volunteer help in exchange for a meal. This is made possible by the fact that Colorado laws do not require a food handlers’ certificate for restaurant workers.
They began by serving forty to fifty meals a day at seven tables. But within two years of opening, they were able to expand their space, and so increase that to up to one hundred. Their average food cost is about $4 a meal and the average donation exceeds that. By offering a limited menu which changes daily, they have also managed to simplify the variety of food they purchase — and thus decrease waste. They buy as much as possible from local farmers and even the Denver Botanic Gardens.
Now a beloved Denver institution, community volunteers and locals mingle with those who find themselves without a home, breaking bread together. Their success has inspired other similar cafes around the country. They have been able to remain open during 2020 and provide food for so many in need — and have expanded that to include food truck service.
The art offerings are pretty simple this week. An unusual cup by Ken Price, a gorgeous art book by Los Angeles Cool School artist Joe Goode, and a watercolor and ink drawing by Margaret Fisher showing people enjoying a meal.
All are essential to any successful dining experience: a vessel to drink from, water, and a friend to enjoy the experience with.
We have had a few works by Ken Price over the last two months. Margaret Fisher is probably new to most of you. She was a talented woman artist at a time when that was not valued. She was also from a very prominent family and never needed to sell her work. Yet she created beautiful artworks, primarily works on paper, for more than 50 years. She supported the efforts of other artists during her lifetime and when she died in 1990 she left all of her Estate to arts institutions to further this effort. Today, there is the Margaret Fisher Fund at the Fogg Museum at Harvard to support the acquisition of contemporary art by women artists. She also made a generous gift to the Art Institute of Chicago.
The official description of the featured artist’s book by Joe Goode is:
“Water” is Joe Goode’s – credited as Jose Bueno – exquisite 1990 limited edition book from The Lapis Press consisting of twelve color etchings of abstracted water executed by master printer Jacob Samuel on handmade paper at Sam Francis’ Litho Shop. The title page and colophon were typeset and printed by hand letterpress by Les Ferriss, with its striking Royal Blue silk binding and grey slipcase by Ulli Rotzscher.
I’ve read that several times since I’ve owned the book, but I never focused on how much of a collaboration putting the book together was until just now. Each person played a part and had the expertise to bring the book – and the experience of the book – together. It takes a team to make it work.
So it is with making a dish, or putting meals together for hundreds like the SAME Cafe does every day. And so it has been with all of the efforts of each of the charities we have highlighted these past weeks. Each person involved adds something to the effort and together makes something that is special.
That is our True Harvest of this season.
I am grateful to all of you who have engaged these past weeks and wish you and your families my very best at Thanksgiving.
LEARN MORE ABOUT SAME CAFE
Click below to find a downloadable PDF that you can read or share with others.