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All Welcome at Heart-n-Soul Community Cafe

Stephanie Zimmerman, Dietetic Intern, Fargo Cass Public Health

The idea came to Leola Daul over eight years ago after noticing an article about a “pay what you can” café that started in Utah. This Utah-based community café allowed patrons of all backgrounds to have access to a hot, healthy meal regardless of their ability to provide payment.  This concept of a community-based, pay what you can afford café stuck with Daul. She believed that starting a similar café would help reduce hunger concerns in the Fargo-Moorhead area and bring all types of people together to connect as a community over a nutritious and tasty meal.  With that thought and a lot of hard work, the Heart-n-Soul Community Café made its debut in June 2016.  North Dakota finally had its first community based, nonprofit, “pay what you can” café.

The Heart-n-Soul Community Café’s mission is to partner with the community to eliminate hunger and food insecurity by serving local, healthy, delicious meals to everyone with dignity and respect.  Customers have the option of either paying what they can, paying a suggested amount, paying it forward by helping another who may not be able to pay or volunteering at the café or other local organizations in exchange for a meal.  According to Feeding America, in 2014, approximately 628,000 North Dakotans and Minnesotans experienced food insecurity; meaning they were unsure of where their next meal would come from.  Heart-n-Soul aims to help decrease those numbers in a discreet manner.  There is no way of distinguishing how much a person pays and everyone is treated just as they would at any other restaurant.   

Using local ingredients and bringing people together are two other important aspects in Daul’s café.  By collaborating with area farmers and organizations, Heart-n-Soul has been able to support local agriculture and use crop that may have gone to waste.  Local squash, oats, potatoes, rhubarb, peppers and carrots have been featured as star ingredients in past meals.  Heart-n-Soul also makes a conscious effort to provide a vegetarian option every time they are open. In addition to dining on local cuisine, you may find yourself striking up a conversation with the person next you and starting a new friendship. When you are finished with your meal, Daul wants to make sure you leave with a full belly and a nourished body, heart and soul.

Other key concepts of Heart-n-Soul include having a variable menu, allowing patrons to choose their own portion size and using volunteers to their greatest extent. Even the space used for Heart-n-Soul is provided by a local restaurant that is closed on the days that the Heart-n-Soul Community Café operates.

If you or a group of people would like to help contribute by volunteering in food preparation, cooking or serving, please contact Leola Daul at heartsoulcc@gmail.com, on Facebook: @HeartnSoulCommunityCafe or on Instagram: @Heart_N_SoulCommunityCafe. Daul also is looking for a small group of volunteers to help with food preparation on Monday evenings – a youth group would be a perfect fit! Any and all help is extremely appreciated.

The Heart-n-Soul Community Café is open every second Sunday of the month from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Josie’s Corner (524 N Broadway). Upcoming dates include March 12 and April 9. Hope to see you there!

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Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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