The Community Table of Buena Vista

Community table image
When was your organization founded and what is its mission statement?

IRS Determination Letter received April 2011, The Community Table (“TCT”) addresses hunger and food insecurity amongst the residents of Rockbridge County and the Cities of Lexington and Buena Vista by providing two high quality meals on a weekly basis (Monday Dinner and Wednesday Lunch). We refer to our effort as “A Restaurant without a Register”, as only donations are made to support our efforts.

What programs and services does your organization offer and to whom are they offered?

The meals are available to all who are present at the service hours. As a “communal feeding site”, we are not required to collect income or needs information per our Membership in the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. We find that approximately 70-80% of our patrons are truly hungry, and the remaining 20-30% are socially deprived and lonely, thus they seek socialization with others due to divorce, being widowed, etc.

Please list any available statistics demonstrating your organization’s recent successes:

TCT serves approximately 300 patrons per week through the two meals provided, and is the only multi-denominational effort of its type in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Please list any important upcoming events/milestones and dates for each:

March of 2017 will mark our 5th anniversary of service.

Please list any community partnerships (existing or planned):

We are presently exploring expansion of services with a group in Natural Bridge at their invitation. We also enjoy consistent interaction with Campus Kitchen, RARA, Library, and others as we serve the needs of many common patrons.

What volunteer opportunities are available at your agency? Please be as specific as possible:

On Mondays from 2-4pm Set Up, from 4-6pm food prep, from 6-8pm serving and busing, and from 8-9:30pm clean-up. On Wednesdays from 10am to 11:30am Set Up and food prep, from 11:30am to 1pm Serving and Food Prep, and from 1 to 2:30 Clean-Up. At least one Board Member is always present on each shift to provide guidance. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Jill Lund, at 540-817-0315.

Why is working for this organization important to you?

We realized as we explored potential efforts on-going in Rockbridge County in 2010 that the concept of “food insecurity” had been researched by several at W&L, with much other info from the USDA. It is our area’s quiet secret as its effects are muted by the goodwill and kindness of neighbors and family members to care for those in need locally. We looked to formalize this effort through the introduction of a dinner service, started March 2012, and then a lunch service started April 2014. We have researched other pilot programs, and even received funding for several, but have decided to not move forward with the pilot programs until a clear business plan and model are in place and approved of by the Board. TCT is by far the most efficient provider of food for the hungry in this area, which is by design. The funds entrusted to TCT truly go to secure high quality food and a peaceful/respectful experience while dining.

What is your favorite memory of working with this organization?

The “success” that TCT enjoys is a two-edged sword: while we rejoice in having the capacity to provide the great meals, we are saddened by the need. We are aware of the increased presence of school-aged children. We knew that many children suffered in silence, but are glad to see them and their families now stepping forward with gratitude to participate in our meals. So much benefit exists in countering hunger at early ages. We have partnered with Library Services to have reading time during lunch, and provide books to the children (and all others) on-site. This focus on childhood intervention is also consistent with UWR’s focus on the children of our community. We also provide a “Cafeteria Survival 101” for children so that they feel more comfortable dining in a public setting.

Please list your organization’s website and links to any social media accounts: