Community Kitchens: If someone paid for your meal, would you pay for...

Community Kitchens: If someone paid for your meal, would you pay for someone’s?


When he took to stage with his 2000’s iconic single, ‘It’s My Life’, thousands of young people all over the world applauded him for voicing their dreams and giving them what came to be recognized as the ‘Youth Anthem’ for the years to come. Listed as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world and nominated as the Best Selling Rock Artist of the millennium by World Music Awards, he still rules the hearts of millions of people with his songs. If you haven’t figured it out already, we are talking about none other than the ‘Blaze of glory’ singer, Jon Bon Jovi. Instead of harping on his musical career which most of you must be well aware of, we take this opportunity to take you on a journey of discovering his other lesser known side.

Jon Bon Jovi, who is also a philanthropist, founded the ‘The Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation’ which was set-up to combat issues that force families and individuals into economic despair. They believe in serving healthy and organic food to the community through community kitchens, called the ‘Soul Kitchen’, that run under the tagline of ‘Hope is Delicious’. There are no prices on the menu of these kitchens and customers can pay a minimum donation or can volunteer to cook for an hour for the neighbourhood. You can always find a seat to share your food and thoughts as the whole atmosphere is filled with kindness and respect for whatever service you offer or consume. They believe in a philosophy, when there is love, there is plenty. Hope certainly is delicious here.

A very similar concept is also adopted by Service Space, an all-volunteer run organization, in the United States and they call such an arrangement ‘Karma Kitchen’, also referred to as the pay-it-forward restaurant. Started in the year 2007 with the aim of shifting away from the mainstream restaurant setting, Karma Kitchen celebrates the spirit of giving. Here, everyone from the waiters that have served over 24000 meals since it’s launch to the dishwasher, are people who offer free services to carry forward the chain of generosity in such a way that the bill at the end of any meal reads $0.00”. Every week a new group of people act as volunteers and help out right from deciding what the week’s menu will be till managing the ambience of the restaurant and making the overall guest experience a better one.

Karma Kitchen also settled it’s roots in Gujarat, India, going by the name of “Seva Cafe”and then expanded in Bangalore, Calcutta and Pune as well. Started by ‘Moved by Love’, it follows the same concept of no price menus and the cheque delivered at the end of the meal reads “Your meal was a gift from someone who came before you. To keep the chain of gifts alive, we invite you to pay it forward for those dine after you.” They call Seva Cafe an experiment in “peer to peer” generosity. Every guest here is told that their meal is gift from an unknown generous person and hence is encouraged to build the chain of giving forward. Further whatever little profits that are made by this cafe are used to fund other social causes and to cover the kitchen expenses.

Apart from this, Kunzum Cafe situated in the capital city of Delhi, follows the same suit. Started by the DCE graduate who quit his job in Print Media, Ajay Jain, in October 2009, Kunzum Cafe provides a space for people especially travelers to hangout, exchange their backpacking stories, share experiences, inquire about sightseeing places and the best lodging options, all over a cup of coffee and a plate of cookies. In the end, you can pay whatever you deem fit. Kunzum Cafe also has a stash of travels books, photographs and picture postcards which can be bought to contribute to the whole venture. Overtime, Kunzum Cafe has also received corporate attention, following which a lot of companies leave their service brochures for people to consider.

So, the next time you are going out with friends for a celebration or a simple family dinner, or doing anything at all,  think of how much more you can do as a community : )

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