HRDC’s Community Café’s evening coordinator flipped the sign in the window to open promptly at 5 pm. The doors opened and Frank came walking through, stopping at the welcome desk with a big smile and a handshake. “I would love to help wash some dishes this evening if you need the help,” he said. Fortunately we had the dishes covered for the evening so I offered our thanks and asked him to please stay and enjoy tonight’s meal. I walked him into the dining area and helped him find a seat. Soon an eager crew of volunteers were at his table taking his order and making him feel at home.
After the initial rush of guests were seated I walked around to refill water. I stopped to again say hi to Frank and asked how he was enjoying his dinner. He said the elk stew, the evenings featured entre, was delicious. Frank asked if I had a minute to talk. As I sat down, he told me that his wife Carol had passed away this past September 25th. The holiday season was a very difficult time for him and at times he felt lonely. He shared with me how he learned of the Café through his church and had recently enjoyed many meals here. The Cafe was not a place he had visited before he lost Carol but is now is place where he can enjoy a dinner with others, lend a hand when needed and helps with the loneliness caused by not having his loved one around to share an evening meal.
Offering a place for Frank and the 86 additional guests who enjoyed dinner at HRDC’s Community Café that evening is the reason HRDC established the Community Café in March of 2012. Since that time, close to 100,000 meals have been prepared and served to anyone in need of a nutritious “home cooked” meal. For many guests it is their only nutritious meal of the day, for others, it is a place to interact and enjoy time at a table with their families. “Like so many HRDC initiatives, the Cafe came together as a broad-based community partnership,” explains Heather Grenier HRDC’s Chief Operatiions Officer. “Thanks to community volunteers, business sponsors and donations we are able to approach food insecurity in a dignified sit-down restaurant style fashion – which our customers say is part of what makes the Café so special,” she added.
Although the Café is an important tool in ensuring no one in the Gallatin Valley is without access to food it is also a place that welcomes everyone. “We encourage everyone to enjoy dinner at the Café, said Grenier. “That is the best way to learn more about this important community resource and enjoy a fun evening out”, she added. Donations are accepted and guests can pay what they can. A menu for the week is listed at Cafebozeman.org.
Operating costs for the Café are over $5,000 each month and include minimal staff costs (volunteers assist with many daily duties and meal service), utilities, insurance, and a mortgage which includes costs for the necessary renovations in establishing a fully functioning and licensed kitchen. HRDC needs your help to keep the Café thriving. We welcome businesses, civic groups, social groups and families to sponsor the Café and participate in serving those in need. To learn more about HRDC’s Community Café or sponsorship opportunities please call Kristin at 406-585-4877 or visit Cafebozeman.org.