New Moon Cafe - Members in the CommunityMarch 4, 2015
Alongside their commitment to delicious food and service, New Moon Cafe in Burlington operates with a mission to serve their whole community--including those that struggle to find their next meal and rarely see the inside of a restaurant. Coffee and sandwiches are reserved to feed those in need through a clever suspended meal program. Any patron can add a $2 coffee or a $4 sandwich to their order when checking out, and New Moon matches those funds (doubling them) and makes product available to someone in need. The demand is high. A warm cup of coffee, a bite to eat and a break from the elements can make all the difference, this winter especially.
You may have noticed an interesting difference between New Moon Cafe and the other downtown Burlington restaurants--they are closed on Saturdays. One of the reasons for this odd schedule, as Operations Director Robin Sutphen explained, is so they can open their doors on Saturday once a month for their Homeless Banquets. From March through November, formal invites are sent through community networks to food and shelter insecure community members asking them to come to the restaurant for a special three course meal. "The preparation takes all day--we want to make it special and send the message that, you're a human being, and you matter" Robin shared. The staff operates on a volunteer basis for these events often serving up to 70 guests, and along with building comaraderie it instills New Moon's mission in their employees. "We have to operate at a high level and utilize the restaurant to do the things we want in the community," Robin explained, "If there are people who are hungry in our community, we want to be in a position to help."
The restaurant has been doing well, and they are looking to expand their outreach! Along with hosting more homeless banquets, they are working in collaboration with the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf to offer an internship program to the graduates of the Community Kitchen Academy--a job training program that prepares underemployed and unemployed Vermonters for a career in the food service industry and lifelong learning through an intensive program of culinary skills development, career readiness and job placement. Students will now be able to jump right into restaurant work at New Moon and build their resume for a career in food service!
So don't forget--the next time you stop by New Moon Cafe, be sure to pay it forward by adding a coffee and sandwich to help feed your neighbors.