Pueblo Food Project is taking preliminary steps to bring a SAME Café location to Pueblo.
The nonprofit is exploring ways to raise funds for the project and plans to explore those options over the next few months, Pueblo Food Project program manager Megan Moore told The Chieftain.
Pueblo Food Project also discussed initial ideas for a location, though Moore declined to further disclose which locations the advisory board had discussed. A fundraising plan is in the works, she said.
SAME Café means “so that all can eat”. Its founders, Brad and Libby Burky, took an unusual approach: a participatory model. Inspired to provide access to healthy food for everyone, visitors to a SAME Café can use a fee-for-service system or donate their time to purchase a meal.
So All May Eat, a nonprofit that has every SAME Café location under its umbrella, has given its blessing to the Pueblo Food Project to explore the possibility of building a third location; SAME Café’s primary location is in Denver with a second slated to open in Toledo, Ohio next month.
Pueblo Food Project worked with a consultant to research and develop a preliminary plan, which it presented to the So All May Eat board.
The plan contained research which revealed that the site would benefit from the support of other local organizations and the community, access to farms and gardens and volunteer volunteers in a solid location.
The Pueblo site would operate similarly to the SAME Café in Denver.
“She’s just a wonderful, wonderful model,” Moore said. “It would be amazing anywhere in America, but especially in Pueblo.”
According to an annual impact report, SAME Café Denver served 16,946 meals and 2,308 outreach meals in 2021, and people volunteered 10,555 hours.
Of those who visited SAME Café Denver last year, 36% said they had difficulty accessing healthy foods outside of the café and 75% said they were from a social minority or barrier.
SAME Café also offers a cook-at-work program where people can receive on-the-job training for entry-level restaurant positions or culinary courses. More than 120 people received culinary training through the program last year, and seven of this group said they found better job opportunities in their respective fields.
A program participant heads to a culinary school after receiving an acceptance letter from Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island.
The Cooking at Work program would be free at the Pueblo SAME Café and available to anyone interested.
“My dream is that we replicate this mission in communities across the country,” said Brad Reubendale, CEO and Executive Director of SAME Café Denver. “We hope our third location will be Pueblo…it would have easy access to people with and without means, and everyone would love and enjoy the meals we prepare.”
The Pueblo Site Advisory Council – each site has its own council – was given a two-year deadline in February to raise the support and funds needed to bring the site to life. If the board is on track by the end of the two-year deadline, an extension is likely, Reubendale said.
Pueblo Food Project is excited about adding a community cafe to the area. Its goals — to create a fair food system — align with the model provided by a SAME Café, Moore said.
“The food is delicious, nutritious and different every day,” she said. “The culture is just amazing. When we visited it was an amazing place and there was such great energy. I think it would make a huge difference (to Pueblo).
Moore and other members of the Pueblo Food Project visited SAME Café Denver in April. Each paid for their meal but also volunteered their time, which involved rolling silverware, washing dishes, preparing food, and cleaning floors, among other tasks.
According to its website, SAME Café uses fresh, organic ingredients and is funded by donations, volunteer labor and products from guests and supporters.
Pueblo Food Project plans to appoint a member of its board of directors to serve as the Pueblo liaison between itself and So All May Eat.
Chief Reporter Josue Perez can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @josuepwrites.