By MARINA WATERS
The nonprofit that has been dedicated to serving food and supporting the community for over four years are continuing their efforts to feed the region with a dinner from the cafe and show from fiddler Carson Peters and Iron Mountain at the cafe in Johnson City to benefit the organization’s Kids Eat Free program that aids hungry children during the summer months and now, beyond.
“The event is focused on raising money for the Kids Eat Free program because it costs us money to feed 3,700 kids. And we anticipate that that’s number’s going to grow in 2017,” One Acre Executive Director Jan Orchard said. “So we got in touch with Carson Peter’s mom. You know, the connection is that Carson Peters himself is a child, so we said to his mom, ‘Would he be willing to donate his services to help with our Kids Eat Free program?’ And he and the band wanted to get behind this to help fund the Kids Eat Free program.”
Peters is an East Tennessee fiddler who’s played old-time, bluegrass and gospel music all over the country at places like the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium and even the Tonight Show with Jay Leno alongside his band, Iron Mountain. And on May 4, at the cafe at 603 W. Walnut St., ticket holders will be treated to a show and a three-course meal at the cafe.
The Kids Eat Free program started in 2015, but the mission of the cafe is one that has been the center of the organization since its official start when they started up the cafe got its start in 2013.
“I don’t think that you’re as able to achieve things in life if you’re hungry. It’s sort of the essence of who we are,” Orchard said. “If you don’t eat in a day, how eager are you to go out and find a new job or find a new place to live or deal with problems in your life. It tends to make you not want to move forward because our bodies need food.”
The Kids Eat Free program is an extension of the cafe’s initiatives that consist of their four main concepts: serve healthy food, buy local whenever you can to support your own community, practice portion control and maintain the work and exchange program. Now the non-profit is also ready to not only feed the community, but support interaction within the community as well.
“Our focus is the Johnson City community and building a sense of community and hoping that it will catch on in other communities—that we need to get to know the people in our community and what their concerns are,” Orchard said. “We have these things called community tables. And a lot of people are older and are maybe depressed, they’ll wander into the cafe because they’ve heard about it and sit down at one of these community tables and before you know it, people are sitting down with them and talking to them. And all of a sudden, they have a sense of validation as a person.”
Orchard also said the cafe is hoping to aid other communities in the region and help with the geographical issue keeping many from receiving a meal.
“One of the issues about hunger and food insecurity is food distribution because Tennessee is a large state and people live out in remote areas,” Orchard said. “So to be able to get food to remote areas is a process in itself. We have it in our 2017-2018 strategy to look into the possibility of food-distribution stations maybe at a firehouse where we say we’re going to deliver x-amount of meals so that people that are hungry can get at least to that firehouse in a more remote area.”
From providing food for all age groups from the elderly to college-age and even to youngsters in grade school, Orchard said One Acre is trying to aid the world’s hunger issue and is hosting the May 4 event to aid them in doing just that.
“It’s just being creative and trying to figure out where the need is and satisfy the need,” Orchard said. “But of course to do that, we need funding. And we need help from the community.”
Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6. Tickets are $50 and available at the cafe or online at OneAcreCafe.org.
Those who cannot attend but wish to contribute may make donations to One Acre Cafe earmarked for Kids Eat Free at the the website or by mail to One Acre Cafe, P.O. Box 3411, Johnson City, TN 37602.