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Everyday Marketplace and Cafe opens for business

By Staff | Feb 12, 2011

The Cape Coral United Way House was full of excitement and smiling faces as many community members gathered for the grand opening of the Everyday Marketplace and Cafe Friday morning.
After everyone mingled and enjoyed some breakfast, Community Cooperative Ministries Inc. Chief Executive Officer Sarah Owen told the full room that this “is the yes day” because so many people came together and made the project possible through affirmation..
“I am surrounded by a group of people that said yes to this project,” she said. “This is the room that makes things happen.”
Owen said because of their generosity, hundreds and thousands of community members will be affected. Having all of the donors come together to provide their expertise only shows that “something like this can be accomplished,” he added.
“When you said yes, you said yes to them and I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” she told all of those who gathered in the cafe Friday morning.
In 2009 the vision of the cafe and marketplace began to blossom after they began to re-imagine the way they could provide sustainability for the community for long-term hunger elimination.
She explained that the Everyday Marketplace and Cafe is the “front porch” to the house of services because everyone is welcome to use the many services offered.
Owen said it was very fulfilling to see the room full of people Friday morning because that is what she envisioned would happen. She explained that the cafe is a place for individuals to gather, get a meal, shop and get the services they need.
“We are excited because we believe this will lead the way,” Owen said, adding that it will provide people with the tools they need to get back on their feet.
The Everyday Cafe, a 2,600-square-foot facility in the Cape Coral United Way House, seats approximately 50 people inside and 25-30 people in the outdoor patio.
After spending years in the catering business in northern Florida, Wendi Wilkie, Everyday Cafe and market manager said she began her own catering business in 2009. After a commercial kitchen was offered to Wilkie through CCMI, she told them “yes, I’m onboard” and began a new journey with her cooking.
She explained that as individuals enter the building, they first sign in and indicate what kind of service they need. If their need is food, they will receive a voucher to shop in the Everyday Marketplace, which is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wilkie said an individual will be given a cart, along with a certain number of plastic bags depending on how many people are in their family for the marketplace. A volunteer will then lead them through the marketplace as they choose the items they want.
“They can choose their own food,” she said. “There is no waste because they pick up what they want.”
The marketplace was designed to replicate a shopping experience at a grocery store to “increase dignity and reduce food waste.”
The market includes bread from Panera Bread, which is delivered every Monday, along with other assortments of food.
The Everyday Cafe, which is open from 10:30 a.m to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, provides individuals with a meal whether they can pay for it or not. For those who are able to pay for their meal are asked to make a monetary donation.
The menu for the Everyday Cafe, Wilkie explained, will change depending on what items they have to work with every day. She said she wants to incorporate soup, three different kinds of sandwiches and a desert every day to provide a variety to those who eat there.
On Friday the menu consisted of tomato basil soup, tuna salad and egg salad sandwich, chicken tarragon, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, cookies and beverages.
The items served every day are all home-made by Wilkie.
“It is made from scratch,” she said.
On Tuesday, Wilkie said she opened the cafe without advertising it and fed 33 people, which she was very pleased with.
“It is so much fun playing restaurant and store,” Wilkie said smiling.
Food donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
Owen said she owes the community a big thankful for welcoming them into Cape Coral.
The Executive Director of the Cape Coral Community Foundation Beth Sanger and Captain Pete with Sea Tow donated $2,000 Friday morning to Everyday Cafe, which will directly be used in providing food for the Cape Coral location.
Everyday Cafe and Marketplace is at 1105 Cultural Park Blvd. For more information call (239) 242-0401 or visit www.ccmileecounty.com.