Fancy dining and charity have been closely linked since at least the 19th century. What better way to raise funds for a charity than to collect potential donors together and to feed them?
Recently, however, some social entrepreneurs have begun putting a new spin on this time-honored association of food and philanthropy. Rather than using cuisine merely as a fundraising hook, they are using it to provide services directly to at-risk populations. The “cause cuisine” model enables participants to learn job skills, such as planning, purchasing, food preparation, cooking and customer service, along with personal life skills, such as time management, nutrition, personal grooming and personal finance, in order to help them move out of at-risk situations and become self-supporting.
The term “cause cuisine” was coined by the founders of Freedom a la Cart, an organization located in Columbus, Ohio, that employs female survivors of sex trafficking. Freedom a la Cart is the result of a partnership between Doma International, an organization active in Russia, Ethiopia, and the U.S., and CATCH (Changing Actions to Change Habits), a program run by the Franklin County, Ohio, Municipal Court. Although it started two years ago as a mobile food cart (hence “a la cart”), Freedom has moved primarily into catering, preparing and serving everything from hors d’oeuvres to full banquets.
In coining the term “cause cuisine,” Freedom a la Cart has provided a catchy name for this brand of social entrepreneurship. And sometimes all a movement needs in order to be recognized is a great name.
Learn more at John Hoffmire’s and Frances Laskey’s Deseret News article: Empowering survivors of sex trafficking through cause cuisine.