Recently, Bridger Orthopedic volunteers did their third evening shift at Fork and Spoon on North 7th. I’d like you to know why this is such a great community service and how you can help this endeavor be successful.
Fork and Spoon is an innovative concept that embraces a pay-as-you-can (PYWC) approach in providing high quality dinners to all, regardless of their ability to pay. Montana’s only PWYC restaurant, Fork and Spoon draws on a number of resources to deliver their delicious and healthy meals. Part of their organizational plan is enlisting volunteer groups who work the dinner in plating, serving and cleaning up after meals. Our Bridger Orthopedic teams have consisted of ten co-workers volunterring from all departments of our organization. Bridger Orthopedic also contributed $500 towards the evening’s “pick up the tab” program. Other revenue streams for Fork and Spoon include featured guest chefs, fundraising events, catering, space rental and contributions. Revenues from paying customers constitutes 22% of Fork and Spoon’s income.
Working with the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, the meals are homegrown, scratch cooked with locally sourced ingredients and beautifully prepared. Each person who walks through the door receives a welcoming experience and full plate regardless of how much they pay. On the Sunday evening that we worked,the patrons were a homogenized mix of families, couples, and singles. We also prepared meals to-go that evening. Many of these were going home with families to help start the week off with something in the refrigerator. A group of singles, predominantly men, greeted each other with familiarity and shared the dinner table providing social connectedness, hard to experience if you’re living with housing insecurity. We served around 80 meals on our shift which is typical of a Sunday evening. Besides being a reliable source of nutrition, Fork and Spoon provides the patrons with a dining experience that reinforces respect and equality in services, offering a seat at the table for everyone.
How Fork and Spoon is working as a financial model is a little more challenging. With HRDC as an anchor, Fork and Spoon has been able to make it work. The Heart of Butte Community Café (another PWYC restaurant inMontana) closed in 2019 facing similar problems that Fork and Spoon is experiencing. With just 22% of customers paying, the deficit left by those not paying is substantial. Fork and Spoon’s goal is to continue to draw more paying patrons in who are making the restaurant a dining choice. Increasing this clientele would help push towards self-sufficiency and allow them to continue serving the community’s needs regarding food insecurity. To accomplish this, they continue to work on the misconception that they are a“soup kitchen” and invite the public into the facility for other events as often as possible.
What can you do to help this excellent community effort? Eat at Fork and Spoon, bring a friend and tell a buddy! Think about the space for your next event, inquire about their catering service or consider a donation. Check out their menu at: https://www.forkandspoonbozeman.org/menu