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Helping to end hunger with pay-what-you-can community cafes


The face of hunger is not what you expect. One in six Americans – nearly 50 million people – is food insecure.* This means families and individuals eat unhealthy foods or resort to accessing emergency food pantries and other coping strategies, or find socially unacceptable ways to meet their nutrition needs such as scavenging or stealing.

To address this issue, One World Everybody Eats (OWEE) is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated to ending world hunger by sharing its pay-what-you-can community cafe model with communities national and internationally. It supports existing and start-up cafes in its network with expert consultation, best practices and networking opportunities.

*U.S. Department of Agriculture’s report titled Household Food Security in the United States in 2012.


The difference OWEE makes

There are more than 40 community cafes across the United States and one in The Netherlands utilizing One World Everybody Eats’ model, as well as Panera Bread’s Panera Cares project. Another 20 cafes are in the planning stages.

Almost all cafes in the OWEE network operate predominately with volunteers. Together, they serve approximately 3,789 meals a day, or more than 1.4 million meals a year.


What makes a OWEE community cafe?

Our  7 Core Values, which are :

  • Pay-what-you-can pricing – Each customer sets their own price for their meal.  You may have suggested prices or price ranges.
  • Patrons choose own portion size –You can offer small, medium and large plates, mindful portion sizes, buffet or cafeteria style.  This helps eliminate food waste, curb overeating and supports your customer in adhering to their personal budget.
  • Healthy, seasonal foods – A commitment to providing local and organic where possible; sustainably grown, raised or caught.
  • Patrons can volunteer in exchange for a meal – This provides a “hand up, not a hand out” opportunity.  Be mindful that a properly trained volunteer can lead to future employment in the food service industry.
  • Volunteers are used to the greatest extent possible – This is an important key to building community and sustainability.  Volunteers can just be working for meals or because they want to support your efforts to curb hunger in your community.
  • Paid staff earns a living wage – This will vary by region, but $12 to $15 per hour is a guideline.
  • Community Table – Have a larger table where individuals and small groups can sit with others and make a larger group that can cross social, economic and other societal boundaries.

OWEE’s YouTube channel

Check out stories of our community cafes.