WPU first-year speaker Kane spotlights food insecurity

September 15, 2022

By Jacob Trump

Community activist Maggie Kane spoke to students on Sept. 6 at William Peace University (WPU) about her work at A Place a Table Café, a non-profit “pay-what-you-can” café in downtown Raleigh. 

New WPU students are studying food insecurity and hunger as part of their first-year seminar course this semester. In August, the students packed more than 12,000 meals for families in need as part of a Rise Against Hunger event, said Dawn Dillon, director of the first-year experience. 

Kane’s speech focused on her work with people living in poverty and how her café has been able to help thousands in need; about 150 people visit the café on Hargett Street in the city’s Warehouse District every week, she said. 

“There weren’t many places where people could come together and share the same space,” Kane explained. 

The café has a suggested price, but visitors are free to pay that price or more or less. They can also volunteer to pay for their meal. 

After visiting other pay-as-you-can restaurants, Kane said, “If others can use a ‘pay if you can model,’ then Raleigh can, too.” 

Kane shared some insights into the inner workings of the café, and how it has grown along with the community.  Kane also shared some personal stories about customers she had who would regularly show up to the café and how it helped change their lives.

“There were two parents and a kid, the mom said ‘you can only get a side meal’ until I went up to them and told her that the menu prices were suggested, which then led the mother into tears and she thanked me for letting them eat out for the first time in months,” Kane explained.

Kane’s story helped students learn about people in need and also how they can get involved in volunteering. 

She ended her talk with  advice for students.

“Celebrate each moment of accomplishment and never be afraid to ask for help,” she said. “Come be a part of our table, you are always welcome.”