Philadelphia Welcomes Its First Pay-What-You-Can Restaurant

If diners aren’t feeling the menu at EAT Cafe in Philadelphia’s Mantua neighborhood, they only have to wait a week to find something new. The charity-driven restaurant adapts to donations they receive from partners. After serving an Italian menu one week, a shipment of green tomatoes might inspire a soul food theme the next. But no matter what’s for dinner on any given night, the meal’s price tag—pay what you can—stays the same.

EAT, or Everyone at the Table, became Philadelphia’s first nonprofit “community cafe” when it opened in the City of Brotherly Love at the end of October, reports. It takes its cues from dozens of similar restaurants around the country: Meals are served for a suggested donation of $15. If you can afford that, great. If you can pay more, less, or nothing at all, that’s fine too.

The Drexel University enterprise seeks to differentiate itself from other pay-what-you-can spots by operating in the style of a full-service establishment. Instead of serving themselves cafeteria-style, diners can come in four nights a week for a three-course meal of restaurant-quality food. Mariana Chilton, who runs Drexel's Center for Hunger-Free Communities, told, "I wanted to make sure this would not be confused with a soup kitchen. It sets the stage for a place where all different kinds of people would want to meet up and intermingle."

EAT currently sources their food from vendors and donors like Metropolitan Bakery, La Colombe, and Giant Food Stores. Their ultimate goal is to work with 60 percent donated ingredients with a target cost of $3.25 per meal and serve roughly 130 people a night. The cafe isn’t yet where it needs to be (they only served 125 meals in their first week), but the team behind it hopes that once word gets around, EAT will act as a space "to nourish the community through good food and fellowship."


Header banner images courtesy of iStock.

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These Mobile Libraries Roaming Zimbabwe Are Pulled By Donkeys
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The people behind the Rural Libraries and Resources Development Program (RLRDP) believe you shouldn’t have to travel far to access good reading material. That’s why they have donkeys do a lot of the traveling for the people they help. According to inhabitat, RLRDP manages 15 donkey-powered library carts that deliver books to communities without libraries of their own.

The organization was founded in 1990 with the mission of bringing libraries to rural parts of Zimbabwe. Five years later, they started hitching up donkeys to carts packed with books. Each mobile library can hold about 1200 titles, and 12 of the 15 carts are filled exclusively with books for kids. The donkeys can transport more than just paperbacks: Each two-wheeled cart has space for a few riders, and three of them are outfitted with solar panels that power onboard computers. While browsing the internet or printing documents, visitors to the library can use the solar energy to charge their phones.

Donkeys pulling a cart

Carts usually spend a day in the villages they serve, and that short amount of time is enough to make a lasting impact. RLRDP founder Dr. Obadiah Moyo wrote in a blog post, “The children explore the books, sharing what they’ve read, and local storytellers from the community come to bring stories to life. It really is a day to spread the concept of reading and to develop the reading culture we are all working towards.”

Kids getting books from a cart.

About 1600 individuals benefit from each cart, and Moyo says schools in the areas they visit see improvement in students. The donkey-pulled libraries are only part of what RLRDP does: The organization also trains rural librarians, installs computers in places without them, and delivers books around Zimbabwe via bicycle—but the pack animals are hard to top. Moyo writes, “When the cart is approaching a school, the excitement from the children is wonderful to see as they rush out to greet it.”

[h/t inhabitat]

All images courtesy of Rural Libraries and Resources Development Program

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Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
This Just In
Lin-Manuel Miranda is Penning a 'Love Letter to Puerto Rico' to Help the Relief Effort
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Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Like so many other Americans, Lin-Manuel Miranda is pained to see the devastation in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. More than a week after the storm hit, millions of the island’s residents are still without power—a situation that some officials estimate could take six months to rectify. So Miranda, whose parents moved from Puerto Rico to New York, is using his voice to make a difference. On October 6 he’ll release a charity single to help raise money so that the U.S. territory can begin the process of rebuilding. 

"It's a love letter to Puerto Rico," Miranda told CNN of the unnamed song. "I had the idea at 3 in the morning … The initial demo was me singing in a bathroom." We can only assume that the final version will be a bit more polished, particularly as it will feature a number of other celebrity artists (and we’re not exactly sure how many people Miranda can fit in his bathroom).

"[I] called every Puerto Rican I know," Miranda said about enlisting additional artists to assist him in the effort. "To every artist, I've said, 'Can you help out on this song?' And they said yes. Without even hearing the song, everyone's joined in.”

Though he hopes the single will help the island’s recovery efforts, Miranda says that it will take more than the generosity of individual citizens to make Puerto Rico whole again. "Only the federal government has the resources, as we have seen in every hurricane or natural disaster [that] has hit us here in the mainland," he said. “Only the federal government has the resources to really begin the rebuilding process.” 

Still, Miranda knows how the news cycle works. He wants to be sure that we keep talking about the situation in Puerto Rico and doing what we can to help. "I know there's a tendency for fatigue because we've just been through two hurricanes,” he said. “And we can't be fatigued when it comes to our fellow Americans.” 

"We are doing what Hamilton did, we're jumping up and down and screaming for support," he added. "Please don't stop telling our story."

[h/t: CNN]


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