|Inside 541 Eatery & Exchange|
|541 Eatery & Exchange Logo|
For those who haven't heard about 541 Eatery & Exchange, let me introduce the concept to you. The restaurant is located in one of the lowest income neighborhoods in Hamilton that also happens to be in a "food desert" (an area with very little in the way of food around it). There was a great need for a warm place that people could enjoy a cup of coffee and a homemade meal in this area. The premise of the restaurant is that people can buy "button currency" and leave it in a jar by the cash register. This way, when less fortunate people come in, they can use "button currency" to pay for their food and drink (up to $5 a day). (If one of us went in and forgot our wallets, we could use "button currency too!) The vision for the Eatery & Exchange was to make an accessible place for everyone in the community while still encouraging a sense of dignity by the use of "button currency." Additionally, the Eatery & Exchange is a not-for-profit restaurant that has built awareness through social media and word-of-mouth solely. The restaurant also operates at a loss by keeping prices extremely low and using volunteers whenever possible.
|Executive Director, Sue Carr|
This entire lecture was a great lesson in social entrepreneurship and the wonderful things people do within our community. Coming from Vancouver, I found that as a whole we tended to hide poverty and mask it as a problem that needed to be solved but was never really addressed. I really appreciated the fresh take that 541 Eatery & Exchange had on this issue and how whole-heartedly most people seemed to accept the idea. The Executive Director also impressed one point upon me in particular-- you shouldn't worry about feeling underqualified, you just need to keep trying to adapt to your environment and you'll be OK.
Go visit and buy some buttons! (Watch the video below;))
541 Barton St. E.,