Denise Cerreta, Founder of One World Everybody Eats, which is an international nonprofit supporting a network of pay-what-you-can Community Cafés that help alleviate hunger, is pleased to announce that she will be awarded the James Beard Foundation’s 2017 Humanitarian of the Year Award. Dedicated to celebrating, nurturing, and honoring chefs and industry leaders among America’s food culture, the James Beard Foundation and these prestigious awards were created to recognize visionary individuals working in the food industry.
“I am beyond humbled and honored to be receiving such a prestigious award from the James Beard Foundation on behalf of OWEE,” said Denise Cerreta, Founder of One World Everybody Eats. “I gratefully accept the Humanitarian Award on behalf of all the visionaries behind our pay-what-you-can cafes; their communities, and all the board members of One World Everybody Eats. My hope is that this recognition will fertilize the seed in the hearts of others who also want to eliminate hunger.”
Established in 1990, with the first awards ceremony held in May of 1991, the James Beard Foundation Awards have been referred to as the “Oscars” in the epicurean world and showcase the country’s top culinary talent. Awards are given in numerous categories from chefs to restaurants, to books to journalism, to broadcast media and restaurant design, as well as lifetime achievement and humanitarian awards. Judges are chosen by the governing committee for each awards category and are all considered experts in their fields.
In 2003, One World Everybody Eats began as a simple offering in a small café in Salt Lake City, UT. Owner Denise Cerreta noticed her patrons were struggling to make ends meet, and in what she describes as her ‘field of dreams’ experience, she decided to begin letting them pay what they could for their meals. She realized that one in six Americans—50 million people—are food insecure, meaning families and individuals are accessing emergency food pantries, even scavenging or stealing, to meet their nutrition needs. To address this issue, OWEE supports a model of pay-what-you-can Community Cafés that helps communities alleviate hunger at the local level.
Since its inception, more than 60 cafés around the world have implemented the OWEE business model, including Panera Bread and the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation for which Cerreta provided café opening guidance. Dozens of cafés are currently in development.
Collectively, OWEE cafés have served almost 2 million meals, 30 percent of which are served to people of less means. Under OWEE’s business platform, each café is committed to serving appealing, nutritious, locally sourced meals with dignity to everyone while ultimately, changing communities and their perspective on hunger.