Experience Making a Difference

Experience Making a Difference

IVC Denver Service Profile: Ann and the SAME Café

by | Mar 6, 2023

One of the founding IVC Denver service corps members, Ann has served as Development and Internship Coordinator at So All May Eat / SAME Cafe for the past four years. Beginning her service in the SAME Cafe, Ann experienced how this innovative participation-based restaurant serves fresh, local food that changes daily and offers the dignity of choice that helps build a community while addressing food insecurity. People of diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and values contribute what they can — time, money, or produce — for a healthy meal at SAME Cafe.

SAME’s unique, community-supportive approach helps people overcome the financial and logistical challenges of accessing healthful food. SAME’s Cook-to-Work job training program achieves housing and employment stability for some.

IVC Denver member Ann Cohen stands outside SAME Cafe storefront.

Ann applies the experience of helping in the SAME Cafe and her training in fundraising to support the SAME CEO and engage social work graduate student interns in fundraising efforts as they work together to write foundation applications and reports, conduct an annual mail campaign, assist with donor relations, and research new funding sources to continue serving nearly 20,000 meals from the Cafe each year. These efforts have also helped SAME purchase a food truck and hire additional staff to reach out to serve meals in food-insecure neighborhoods throughout the Denver metro area.

SAME intentionally partners with social service agencies and other food justice organizations, providing services to people experiencing homelessness, veterans, members of LGBTQ communities, Hispanic/Latinx/African American communities, immigrants, and persons with disabilities. The combined expertise of SAME’s mutually beneficial partnerships collectively presents the opportunity for lasting and sustainable solutions to address the needs for food access and food service employment on a grander scale than each could do independently.

SAME’s unique approach to food justice has positioned SAME as a national model for solutions to food insecurity. From this position, SAME has supported grassroots efforts in Toledo, Ohio, to establish a SAME Cafe in the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. This second SAME Cafe site is the beginning of the replication of SAME Cafes in communities throughout the country. While the immediate impact of SAME is in meals served, individuals trained, and communities reached, SAME also creates positive change over time when people recognize the value they inherently have and what they can offer to others. When people recognize their own dignity and the value they bring, they change themselves and their community