The Global Grace Café fulfills five of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, one being Goal 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth as it provides jobs (including positions such as chef) for immigrants. It also fulfills Goal 4 - Quality Education as it provides English lessons for those who work there.
Rutgers Business School
Reverend Seth Kaper-Dale, the pastor of the Reformed Church of Highland Park, which includes members of 45 countries, opened a space in the Church as the Global Grace Café in April 2016.
The Global Grace Café is a social enterprise that has created an innovative approach to the community kitchen model. Their primary goal as a business is to provide affordable food to the community. They build on their business from the local community by using a rotating menu model, offering international cuisines (made by chefs from India, Syria, Jamaica, Uganda, and Indonesia) on different days to bring in other customers. Their secondary goal as a business is to provide employment opportunities and job and language training to new immigrants, particularly refugees from crisis regions such as Syria and the Congo, and those with disabilities such as autism. Their overarching goal is to raise awareness and funds for refugee resettlement. By working towards this goal, the café fulfills seven of the UN’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development in the process: Goal 1 - No Poverty, Goal 2 - No Hunger, Goal 4 - Quality Education, Goal 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth, Goal 10 - Reduced Inequality, Goal 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production, and Goal 16 - Peace and Justice.
Ultimately, the inspiration for the business emerged out of his concern for refugee resettlement issues. He wanted to create a new kitchen that focused on the immigrant community and used the beauty of their cultures and culinary experiences to raise awareness and funds for refugee resettlement. He recognized that he might have a better advantage with a new format that created a “restaurant-style ministry” that leveraged the cooking talents of his diverse congregation. This inspired the pastor to create a workplace that could serve as a first job opportunity for some of the refugees he was already working with through his social ministries.
General Manager Emily Randall-Goodwin describes the impact of the café as "impact[ing] work in a community sense. People can come in here and connect with others through food. While we can’t say there's a global impact to what we do, I guess we spread global cuisine." The positive representation with recent immigrants, refugees, and asylees encourages a positive connotation to refugees and immigrant-related issues. The diversity of the café encourages discussion and sharing of different experiences.
The business innovation impacts the lives of those involved in addition to working for the good of the community. The innovative impact—being the high-quality, low-priced diverse foods; teaching services; environmentally friendly habits; and a safe space for refugees—of the Global Grace Café impacts those involved by providing a rewarding volunteership medium. Those serving at the café find joy in volunteering, as their actions promote selfless compassion, kindness, and charity. The best reward, in the volunteer’s perspective, is the opportunity to give back to the community, which the Global Grace Café allows people to do.
In addition, the café provides a unique setting to nurture social activity. As “regulars” and frequent volunteers spend multiple weekends together at the business, irreplaceable bonds naturally develop. The Global Grace Café impacts the lives of those involved by architecting a meeting facility where relationships can grow, foster, and become priceless factors in people’s lives. The café is a not only a restaurant, but a social space where people venture for not only the food, but for the people.
In another light, the Global Grace Café has been able to impact the lives of many immigrants, refugees, and the disabled. Not only does it provide a safe environment for them to be welcomed, but according to the general manager, it also provides around 15–20 refugees, immigrants, and people with disabilities with jobs. Through the cafe, those immigrants and refugees were able to learn important job skills while also being taught English through one of the volunteers, a skill that they will be able to carry throughout the rest of their lives. The café has positively impacted the lives of many refugees and immigrants by providing a start to their work life and a safe environment.
The Global Grace Café has had many benefits on the lives of those who are involved and on the environment. The café has provided many jobs for immigrants, many of whom choose to stay working there. During an online interview, General Manager Emily Randall-Goodwin stated, “We have had roughly 15–20 refugees/asylee/recent immigrants work with us since the beginning of the cafe in 2016. The café impacted and helped roughly 10 refugees, asylee, and recent immigrants get jobs after their work at the café.
Additionally, the café serves as a safe haven for volunteers and employees. Mukayisenga, a Ugandan refugee, is a prime example of this. She fled Uganda after a war killed a majority of her family and finds peace at the Global Grace Café in Highland Park. Despite the tragedy of losing her family, and being unaware of her son’s well-being, Mukayisenga can confirm that the Global Grace Café is a welcoming environment when she quotes, “ We are all learning from each other’s cultures….When I think about things that have happened, I feel bad...But in the café, I feel good. This is a nice family to have.” Stories like these are carried by many who volunteer or work at the business.
Many of the employees he has hired had very limited English language skills, so the café includes English as a Second Language (ESL) training as well as kitchen job skills training.
The Global Grace Café provides a safe, diverse environment for refugees and the disabled. In addition to selling food, the café allows refugees to cook their cultural food as a means of employment. This provides a diverse cuisine for the diners, while also providing those who are struggling as a refugee with employment. In addition, the cafe provides complimentary meal vouchers for those with food insecurity.
Many refugees look to the church and Global Grace Café in need of aid, assistance, food, clothes, and shelter. The Café makes its best effort to provide to those in need and does make a meaningful impact in the lives of others.
In addition, the Global Grace Café also strives to create a zero-waste restaurant by limiting the food waste and use of plastics. In terms of plastics and packaging, the café urges the customers to bring their own tupperware and containers if they plan to take food with them or order takeout.
Emily Randall-Goodwin, Head Chef/Café Manager
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Highland Park, New Jersey, US
Business Website: https://www.rchighlandpark.org/global-grace-cafe/
Year Founded: 2016
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
The Global Grace Café, located in the Reformed Church of Highland Park, is a community-focused business that features cuisines global cuisines. The café provides employment opportunities to immigrants while also promoting diversity and acceptance.