A 1989 Emory & Henry graduate has teamed up with members of the Boone, N.C. community to start a non-profit restaurant aimed at helping to relieve hunger in Watauga County.
Linda Coutant and her partner, Chris May, have joined with other residents of Boone to start the F.A.R.M. Cafe, which stands for Feed All Regardless of Means. The pay-what-you-can restaurant opened in May 2012 to help relieve the issue of hunger in Watauga County – where nearly 25 percent of the population lives at or below the poverty level.
As a founding board member, Linda was responsible for public and media relations and was involved in fundraising. She did a series of local media interviews, led a team of Appalachian State University students in creating communication pieces to bring attention to the cause, developed a website and interior signage, and helped raise more than $65,000 to get the cafe started.
As a result of her involvement, she has been invited to serve on the national board of the One World Everybody Eats Foundation starting in 2013. The Foundation is an outgrowth of the first pay-what-you-can restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah – also called One World Everybody Eats. The Foundation helps communities across the United States start and maintain their own non-profit, pay-what-you-can restaurants to help alleviate hunger
F.A.R.M. Cafe is located in downtown Boone, in the historic Boone Drug building on King Street. It serves lunch only and runs almost entirely on volunteers. Patrons can pay what they can toward a suggested price, pay a little more than the suggested price to help their neighbors in need, or volunteer for an hour in the café in exchange for a meal. The cafe’s menu changes daily and offers nutritious meals made primarily from local sources.
“I was attracted to this business model because it was innovative and added a new dimension to how we solve the issue of hunger in the United States,” Linda said. “So far, F.A.R.M. Café is working. It serves on average 75 people a day for lunch. Each month, more than 70 of these individuals work in exchange for a meal for themselves or their families – people who otherwise might not have a hot meal. We’ve also built partnerships with local farmers and other organizations toward strengthening our local food system.”
While at Emory & Henry, Linda majored in mass communications and was a former president of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and editor of The Whitetopper. She lives in the Boone area and works as an editor/writer in Appalachian State University’s University Communications office.