One World Café heightens the food expectations of the non-profit world

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by Tricia Oliphant

Imagine a menu that offers so much variety it actually changes on a daily basis. You choose your portions and then pay what you are able or what you think your meal was worth. If you do not have money to buy a meal, you can volunteer an hour of your time and eat for free.  Those who serve your food are also the people who helped prepare it, allowing you to find an immediate answer to the age-old question “It looks good, but what’s in it?”

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Such is the organization of One World Café, a non-profit community café in downtown Salt Lake City.

Denise Cerreta founded One World Café in 2003. It is now part of several non-profit cafés nationwide that make up the One World Everybody Eats Foundation. The café provides delicious, healthy meals to all who desire to eat, regardless of their financial situation.

When I heard about this revolutionary idea of choosing my portions and what I wanted to pay for them, I was curious about how it worked. I decided to give it a try with a friend.

Upon entering the café, we immediately noticed the friendly atmosphere. We were greeted kindly by one of the cooks/servers who directed us to choose our plate size. Although we were only required to pay what we deemed fair, we did see price suggestions according to the size of plate written on a blackboard (small: $4 to $6, medium: $7 to $9, large: $10 to $12.)

Our server then described each of the dishes laid out in front of us, buffet style. The main dishes included sweet curry over brown rice, a unique asparagus quiche on a potato crust, and seasoned beef bursting with flavor.

An assortment of fresh salads complimented each of the main dishes, including a zesty marinated carrot and cucumber salad, and a wild rice salad with celery and tomato.

We tried a bit of everything. We also chose a drink from a selection of coffee, tea, soymilk, almond milk, or water.

The One World Café offers a cozy, “feel like you’re eating in your mother’s dining room” atmosphere.  Each of several dining rooms contains only a couple of dining tables to provide a sense of privacy. A patio in front allows for dining al fresco.
In addition to the warm, inviting atmosphere and the plethora of food and dining options, the food itself at One World Café was simply succulent and mouthwatering. The ingredients were clearly fresh. Most were organic.

“I believe in getting food as close to the source as possible,” One World Café manager David Spittler said.

Sunflower Farmers Market donates many of the ingredients used at One World Café.  The café also participates in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), where a monthly fee is paid to a local farm for its fresh produce.

Spittler became an advocate of fresh, organic food while he worked on a peach farm after high school.  The peaches they shipped to places such as Wal-Mart, Spittler said, were picked while they were still green, thus robbing the produce of many vital nutrients.

Using several of their favorite cookbooks, Spittler and a group of regular volunteers decide how to use the fresh ingredients as they prepare a weekly menu — about a week in advance.

“We try to make the menu as friendly to everyone as possible,” he said.

“My favorite cold dish was the Cucumber and Carrot Zest,” said customer Lauren Snow on a recent visit. “The ingredients were so simple but it had so much flavor, and it’s something I can make at home.”

One other point in One World’s favor: very little food at the café goes to waste. Because customers choose their portion sizes, they eat most of their food.

Furthermore, the food that is left over at the end of the day, such as salads, can often be reused in another dish the following day. Although the hot dishes are not reheated, Spittler said, they are often reused in a soup. Any leftover waste is recycled as compost.

One World’s kitchen is small, but out in the open for all to see.  Customers can watch their meals being cooked. With only one six-burner stove in operation, something is always cooking.

“We can’t prepare large quantities [of food] at one time,” said volunteer Isaac Hoppe. “This is a good thing because it’s fresh.”

Whether you’re looking for a pleasant dining atmosphere, a delicious variety of well-prepared dishes, or would simply like to help feed the hungry of Salt Lake City, the One World Café has something for everyone.

One World Café

41 S 300 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Hours: Wed -Sun, 8 a.m. -7 p.m.; Fri –Sat, 8 a.m. -9 p.m.

Phone: 801-519 – 2002519- 2002

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Spy Hop and UNP: Shining some light on the west side of Salt Lake City

Story and photo by COLLIN McLACHLAN

What if you turned on the radio and heard this: “A young man was stabbed today in a probable gang fight in Bountiful.” Would you be surprised? Now imagine if the radio said it was in Rose Park.

“Stereotypes don’t reflect crime statistics,” said Sarah Munro, associate director of University Neighborhood Partners.

Founded Nov. 1, 2002, UNP is a program that “brings together University and west side resources for reciprocal learning, action, and benefit.” According to its website, UNP collaborates with communities and nonprofit organizations in an effort to “provide access to higher education.” Its drive comes from the idea that education is the key to strengthening both families and communities.

“UNP is not a service organization,” Munro said. “What we do is meet with local nonprofit organizations on the west side and establish partnerships that will benefit the community.”

UNP has many challenges to its work. “The difficult thing is that people want to know what changes are happening,” Munro said.

She said it’s difficult for UNP to measure its success because success doesn’t come from UNP’s work alone. Since its main focus is to create partnerships, UNP finds success when its partners do.

This doesn’t mean that success cannot be tracked. One organization that UNP has partnered with in the past is Spy Hop Productions.

Spy Hop Productions works to help students on the west side.

Spy Hop Productions is a youth media arts and educational enrichment center. Spy Hop’s purpose, according to its website, is to “empower youth to express their voice and with it create a positive change in their lives.”

According to the site, Spy Hop works with some 1,800 students every year in the fields of documentary arts, video production, audio engineering, music and interactive media. Founded in 1999, Spy Hop has been “acknowledged by the Sundance Institute as setting the standard for media arts learning across the nation.”

Students learn things at Spy Hop that go beyond the classroom. “These kids are being taught to express themselves in a positive way,” said Virginia Pearce, director of Marketing and Community Programs in a phone interview. “It gives the kids a chance to be proud of something, which goes a long way.” A lot of students at Spy Hop live on the west side and come from backgrounds which Spy Hop refers to as “underprivileged.”

Spy Hop works directly with its students over long-term mentor-based instruction. The students get hands-on tutoring as they work on media stories, documentaries or music recordings. “There are so many success stories, I couldn’t think of just one,” Pearce said.

Matt Mateus, a programs director at Spy Hop, shared one student’s story that can be counted as a success for both Spy Hop and UNP. He says a student who grew up in Rose Park in an underprivileged family came to Spy Hop wanting to be a recording engineer. But he needed special classes that Spy Hop couldn’t provide. Spy Hop did, however, have contacts with universities that offered those classes. After the student had worked to raise the money, Spy Hop helped to send him to a school in Arizona that had a recording engineer program. “That student now works in Salt Lake where he owns his own recording studio,” Mateus said in a phone interview.

Spy Hop and UNP do still share a common belief that drives each organization. “Preparing students for higher education is directly related to Spy Hop’s programming goals,” Mateus said. The organization collaborates with Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) quite a bit.

“A lot of our students are underserved,” Mateus said. “They usually don’t have the opportunity to jump into the U of U, so they go to SLCC.”

These types of success stories are different from the articles normally published in the newspaper.

Mike Thompson’s mission: To be a ‘change agent’

by YEVGENIYA KOPELEVA

Imagine a beach covered with thousands of miles of starfish and an individual throwing them one by one back into the ocean. This is how Mike Thompson, executive director of Equality Utah, envisions his position. For him, it’s not about saving every starfish, it’s about making a difference to just that one. His personal mission is to be the “change agent.”

“I can’t change the world, but I can influence my part,” Thompson said about his career in Salt Lake City.

Thompson was born in Broken Arrow, Okla., in 1964, and received a bachelor of business administration in management and communication from the University of Oklahoma in 1986. After working for oil companies in Chicago and St. Louis for eight years, Thompson left the corporate world and joined a ministry training program for two years. Upon completing the program, he traveled to London to work with inner-city children and youth. It is there that he learned to work with his heart, not his head.

While using his spirit and compassion working as a nonprofit consultant in Denver, Thompson met a member of Equality Utah’s board of directors who encouraged him to interview for a campaign position in the summer of 2004. Thompson helped Scott McCoy, a state senator of District 2, raise $800,000 to say “no” to the “Don’t Amend” campaign. The constitutional Amendment 3 denied same-sex marriage. “It’s the passion of working on issues that resonates within me,” Thompson said about his responsibilities with the campaign. Although Amendment 3 passed in November 2004, Thompson’s leadership led him to be invited to interview for the position of Equality Utah’s executive director in August 2005.

Equality Utah was founded as Unity Utah in 2001 as a political organization. It became the political advocate for the LGBT community with the goal of creating “a fair and just Utah” and finding common ground with other members in the community. Equality Utah is part of three nonprofit organizations that share the same mission of “securing equal rights and protections for LGBT Utahns and their families.”

The Equality Utah Foundation educates and informs the community about issues impacting the LGBT community, while the Equality Utah Political Action Committee “endorses candidates and supports their campaigns with volunteer efforts and financial contributions.” Equality Utah strives to provide volunteer support to candidates who are “willing to be open-minded and create dialogue.”

When Thompson lobbies at the capitol, people first notice the “equality button” he is wearing on his suit, and then they simply walk away. He identifies this sort of bias as a major obstacle for Equality Utah. “It’s people assuming or stereotyping all the time that becomes frustrating in that you always have to prove credibility first,” Thompson said. “I need to be the whole of who I am and be treated equally regardless of who I am.” Thompson encourages the public to eliminate biases and “talk about the root of the issue.” He hopes that by reaching one person, dialogue about stereotypes and biases will lead to change.

Thompson believes that “people of faith have the biggest opportunity to support LGBT issues and Utah is where the social change needs to take place.” With that, he hopes to have point people in the 29 Utah counties to establish relationships and have Equality Utah be more of a presence in the state. Thompson says Equality Utah is successful because of its approach of building relationships. “We don’t have an activist approach; it’s about meeting people where they are,” Thompson said about the organization’s efforts to initiate conversations.

Through Thompson’s vision of effecting change, the Annual Allies Dinner, a fundraising event that benefits the Equality Utah Political Action Committee, has grown from 250 attendees in 2002 to 1,127 people this year. In addition, Equality Utah hosts “Out for Equality” events to promote membership and inform the LGBT community of available resources and current issues. “Anything we do socially has to have a tie to our mission,” Thompson said. With almost 1,000 members and an e-mail database with 10,000 supporters, Equality Utah is gaining influence in the community.

Equality Utah’s current starfish is working with municipalities to implement employment non-discrimination policies, which include both sexual orientation and gender identity, for their city’s employees. The policies aim to protect the rights of all people and create domestic partner benefits. “It’s about equal pay for equal work,” said Thompson. Although Salt Lake City voters approved this ordinance in March, Thompson hopes to introduce the issue in the 2008 Utah Legislature for a statewide ruling.

A big change is coming for the IRC in SLC

by MATT BERGSTROM

Imagine you have just contracted a life-altering disease. You find a specialist who knows how to treat it and the two of you work together to improve your quality of life. Now imagine that after six months you are told you have to go to a new specialist. The new doctor is just as qualified, but knows very little about your specific needs. You now have to go back and find a system that works for you both.

This is what life is like for newly arrived refugees in Salt Lake City. They are given six months to grow accustomed to one aid organization, and then their case is handed over to another, Patrick Poulin said. Poulin is the resettlement director for the International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake.

The IRC is an international nonprofit organization that specializes in resettling refugees from around the world in the United States.

The IRC is also the first doctor in the scenario given above.

When the U.S. State Department decides who will be given a new home here, they approach groups like the IRC and ask them how many refugees their organization can take on. The IRC then gives them a number. When the two agree which cases will be handled, the IRC is given all the information on each person being resettled.

The next job is deciding which of the IRC’s 17 U.S. regional offices will handle each case.

Once the local office has the information and has arranged for the refugee to enter the country, the staff have six months to do everything they can to help people get resettled and become self-sufficient.

According to the IRC’s Web site, staff and volunteers work together to help refugees obtain “the tools of self-reliance: housing, job placement and employment skills, clothing, medical attention, education, English-language classes and community orientation.”

This is where the second specialist gets involved.

After six months of assistance from the IRC the refugees and their cases are transferred to the Asian Association of Utah.

The AAU, which is also a nonprofit organization, works with refugees to improve their situation by upgrading housing, finding permanent employment so they can become completely self-sufficient. The goal of the AAU is to have refugees settled into a job, a community and a way of life that will best facilitate their individual needs.

Both organizations have similar goals, but Poulin says it’s a difficult transition for someone coming from a completely different world to have to adjust to a new aid organization so quickly. That is why he and the IRC have been trying to extend their involvement with refugees from six months to as many as 24 months. Poulin feels this is ample time for refugees to get settled into their new surroundings and firmly anchor their new life in America.

Lina Smith, program director for resettlement for the Asian Association of Utah, agrees with Poulin. “I think whatever works for the refugee, I’m for it,” Smith said.

The AAU currently handles all refugee cases in the state including those managed by other nonprofits.

Smith said the IRC will begin working with refugees for up to two years beginning in January. She feels this will help ease the workload of the AAU’s four full-time caseworkers who currently oversee more than 80 cases each. Her organization will still be there to help refugees who need assistance after the first two years.

Smith and Poulin agree that a more equal share of the responsibility between the two organizations is beneficial for the refugees and the nonprofits. But they still worry about money.

Both organizations receive funding from the State Department, but Smith and Poulin feel that it is not enough. Currently, refugees receive $425 a month on which to live.

Poulin said Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has set aside an additional $200,000 from the Utah state budget for refugee services in 2009. Poulin also says The George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation has promised the IRC a $50,000 grant.

Poulin is convinced the additional funding will help greatly with the overall success of their program. He said, “If we are able to provide more quality services to refugees … then we are successful.”