The name of the company, Feed the World Café, quickly conveys its connection to the United Nations Global Goals, particularly "zero hunger." Feed the World Café was created with a purpose, to give one meal away for every meal they sell. As chef/owner Patrick stated, “Feed the World Café is about making a difference in the world and not just our community”.
Western Michigan University
Feed the World Café’s mission states, “One for one, a social impact restaurant offering fresh unique food using locally sourced ingredients." Every meal purchased at the restaurant results in one or more meals provided in the community through the local food bank. The café does not wait until the business has generated a profit. Patrick says, “The mission to donate means most, which is why we give from the top and not based on profit after expenses”. Also, the café hosts special events such as murder mystery dinners, that follow the same principle.
A second innovation of the cafe is how they reduce the amount of food waste sent to local landfills. The café holds tight standards for food waste by identifying new ways to re-purpose food that would otherwise be thrown away. This is not food from diner's plates, but scraps like banana peels or rotten apples. Patrick shared an interesting fun fact, “Banana peels can be used for removing scratches from a CD or DVD”. Feed the World prides themselves on having less than 10% food waste, while the average restaurant has around 30%. Even the 10% “wasted” is given to local pig farmers as feed for their pigs. Other business practices that coincide with the UN’s SDG's are the use of reusable bamboo to-go containers, restriction of plastic straws, and the sale of sustainable kitchen items within the store of the café.
Patrick is a Western Michigan University graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Food Service Administration. The idea of giving back to the community through a social enterprise cultivated while he was attending college. Patrick, like many students, experienced food insecurity while in college. He sometimes wondered where his next meal would come from and he saw families in this same situation. It then struck him as something “[he] needed to do something about”.
It was in a Social Responsibility class at WMU that Patrick learned about the "one for one" concept. Patrick wanted to incorporate this business model through food. He started volunteering at the local food bank and noticed the number of families and individuals who relied on the food bank’s resources. He wanted to help, while creating a business model around his love for food. In return, Feed the World Café was born.
Globally, the impact of this innovation shows the restaurant industry that a 1-for-1 concept is a doable business model. Other industries could adopt the same principles as well, which would have a tremendous impact on other sustainable goals.
Locally, Patrick and his team have enabled the food bank to serve over 100,000 meals to those in need. This is an additional 100,000 meals, which would not have been possible without the cafe's commitment to their mission. Patrick expects to donate another 100,000 meals within the next two years.
Donating off the top, rather than on profit challenges Patrick and the staff at Feed the World to work especially hard to increase revenue by selling more meals and hosting more events. This is why Feed the World Café has looked at other avenues of business like the mystery dinner, beer pairing events, as well as catering and auctioning off Chef Patrick’s culinary services. The more the revenue, the more they can give back.
Currently, Feed the World Cafe has 12 employees on their payroll. This a crucial business benefit because that is 12 people who now have jobs and are contributing to society in a meaningful way.
The name, Feed the World Cafe, is Patrick's brand. He created the name to serve a purpose. Doing so has brought awareness of his innovative efforts, which then brings customers in the door. As millennials gain independence and adulthood, we tend to "care" more about the businesses community/world efforts. As Feed the World continues their 0% waste efforts, the business is able to operate at a lean level. Re-purposing scraps and rotten food reduces the cafe's cost which results in higher profit margins.
As a society, we are not always in-tune with how poverty and hunger are big problems for many families. Feed the World Café not only helps those who are in need by donating to the food bank, but they raise awareness about issues associated with food insecurity. The café has been doing other events in the community like pairing with the local Boys and Girls Club to teach young individuals how to use the food they have been given, while cooking them in a healthy manner. “We can help provide families with food, but if they don't know how to prepare that food, what impact do we really have?”, said Patrick.
Feed the World Café is reducing plastic use within their café by restricting plastic straws usage. Also, the café only uses recyclable bamboo to-go containers. These containers can be washed and reused multiple times, therefore getting away from the foam or plastic containers that have a lifespan of one use and are difficult or impossible to recycle.
Patrick Mixis, Chef/Owner
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Kalamazoo, MI, USA
Business Website: feedtheworldcafe.com
Year Founded: 2015
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
Feed the World Café is a sit-down style restaurant that was opened in 2015. The café started just as that – a café whose menu was limited to coffee and pastries while setting into motion their sustainable innovation. After the first year, the café expanded by offering fresh meals that are prepared with locally sourced ingredients. Now, Feed the World Café offers an array of lunch items, as well as an ever-changing dinner menu. Chef/Owner Patrick Mixis is always looking at trends within the food industry and adapting to provide customers with unique and exciting dishes. In addition to food items, the business also features products from local companies such as herbs and spices made from a local farm serving autistic adults.