Ne Si’ka – Food from the Heart
Who are you?
We’re a group of regular folks mostly with pasts in the service industry who can identify with, and have had experience with, food insecurities and hunger issues at some point. We identified an issue and a need and discovered an amazing way to help put a dent in that issue and help some people.
What do you do?
We are in the process of raising funds and developing a pay what you can restaurant. This model is popping up all over the country in different forms, each a little different. Some are cafes and some even move around, ours will be a full service restaurant servers and table seating. There will be a suggested price for any given meal and there will be those who can afford to pay the suggested price, those who have can pay it forward and pay a little bit extra, and those who need to pay less or nothing at all. No one will be turned away, but there will also be volunteer opportunities to pay for a meal in that way and learn some job skills and gain some work experience.
What is your inspiration? (Why do you do what you do?)
So many inspirations! Locally, Sisters of the Road is a great model and provides a great service, but their primary goal is in helping with homelessness, of which hunger is only one part. Funny enough, we first discovered the concept through Jon Bon Jovi, who has a pay what you can restaurant called Soul Kitchen in Red Bank, New Jersey. We contacted them and they led us to Denise Carreta where they got the idea. She started with One World Cafe in Salt Lake City and now has a non-profit foundation called One World Everybody Eats that guides others through the process. She has been a major inspiration and invaluable resource. Our primary inspiration right now, may actually just be the people we talk to in the community. There is such support and love from everyone we talk to about the concept it really keeps us going when the whole non-profit process gets frustrating!
One of our board members was born and raised in Foster-Powell/Lents, which helped us take a hard look at the area. Although, we checked out demographics around the city, our final decision to end up in Foster-Powell came due to the fact that it is the largest urban food desert within Portland and contains some of the lowest paid working families. These things all point to exactly where there is the greatest need for our restaurant model. Beyond the logistics, there is already such a solid sense of community that are extremely excited to tie into that and do our part to strengthen that.
Ways to unite the Fine Folks of Foster and it’s neighboring communities?
I’ll put this into a context that relates to us and some of our goals. We would like to be a community “anchor” a hub where everyone feels comfortable regardless of their means. The community table, if you will, where conversations are struck and neighbors can meet neighbors whether they live in Mt Scott/Arleta, Woodstock, Lents, Foster/Powell, or any of the surrounding communities. One of the reasons we are seeking a larger location is so that we can have a space for community meetings, gatherings, and events. Something that is important to us and the sense of community is garnering as many partnerships and sourcing as many resources as we can from within the community itself. This can be as small as helping a community garden out by purchasing resources or as large as using a local contractor for renovations. Sustainability is extremely important to us and one of the best ways to be sustainable is by keeping everything as local as possible. When that happens and people see it happening successfully that circle just grows.
How do you envision the future of your neighborhood?
From what I have seen and the people I have talked to I definitely see a lot of forward motion and collaborative effort moving the neighborhood toward stronger economic growth. The important part of that is the collaborative effort, because it seems a more unified vision exists that is leading to stronger community with more diversified businesses that are desired and needed. We are excited to be a part of that growth and for the positive responses we have already received from the community.
Some top fives to appease the list lovers: Your Top 5 Songs to get you through a life?
Our tastes are just too diversified as a group to come to consensus on this so I’m just going to say “Don’t Stop Believin” because you know…Journey