Grace Café celebrates third anniversary with annual block party

Published 6:10 am Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Grace Café, Kentucky’s first nonprofit pay-what-you-can restaurant, will be celebrating its third year in business through a Gratitude Block Party on Saturday, according to a press release from the restaurant. Food for the event will be prepared by Grace Café staff and Happy Hour BBQ.

The three-hour event will feature music from Honest Abe & The Liars, a three-man rock band from Harrodsburg. Rather than provide a suggested donation amount for attendees, Grace Café asks guests to “donate from their heart.”

It first opened its doors in 2015, to provide the Danville community with nutritious, locally sourced food. The pay-what-you-can business aims to end hunger by providing food security in the Danville area. Visitors of the café who are able to pay-it-forward aide this mission by helping with the cost of a meal for someone experiencing food insecurity. The café is also aided by volunteers who help to run the café as well as contribute to their mission and learn valuable skills in the process.

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According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2016 report, there are an estimated 4,340 food insecure individuals residing in Boyle County, an estimated 1,030 of that population are children. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19.5 percent of Danville residents and 16.4 percent of Boyle County residents live below the federal poverty level. Both of these numbers are higher than the 14 percent national average for people living below the poverty line.

The founder, Rochelle Bayless, credits the success of her business to the staff. She says her staff is able to create a daily changing menu. This food process keeps things fresh, local and seasonal for patrons, and eliminates the amount of food waste created. 

In a release about the event, Bayless said, “We live in a vibrant and generous community but a substantial number of residents are worried about having enough food for themselves and their families. Despite their hard work and contributions, many of Danville’s citizens cannot afford nutritious food. Grace Café offers these residents a safe, friendly place where they can eat a healthy meal without feeling as if they are receiving charity and with their dignity intact. Our efforts have not only provided this service to folks who are experiencing food insecurity, but are also building community in a constructive and joyful way.”

Grace Café has served 51,600 meals since its opening in July and 2015, and volunteers of the cafe have given 11,112 hours of their time. Of the hours worked, 2,581 were in exchange for a meal; 2,326 were community service hours (court, housing, education); and 6,205 hours were worked by people who simply wanted to give back.

“For many of these individuals, the café is providing an opportunity to gain valuable work experience to enter or re-enter the workforce,” the release quotes Bayless as saying.

Additionally, Bayless says that Grace Café has invested more than $83,000 directly into central Kentucky’s farming community.

The proceeds from the third annual block party will go to Grace Café. 

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Grace Café’s block party will be 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, July 14 at 219 S. Fourth St.