Haywood Street Congregation 'Turns the Tables'

Apr 9, 2019

Local chefs and restaurant owners were the ones getting a free meal at Haywood Street Congregation today.

The church usually provides a free lunch on Wednesdays to those experiencing food scarcity, homelessness, or addiction. But on Tues., the congregation wanted to “turn the tables” and show its thanks to those in the food industry.

Robert Stafford arranged the flowers on each table.

“The value of this meal is not only do you get fed, but you get fed spiritually,” Stafford said. “Because people want to welcome you, and talk to you, and see how your week is. Other places you go are not like that.”


Mary Farnsworth has volunteered for Haywood Street Congregation for nine years and helped serve Tuesday's lunch.
Credit Cass Herrington / BPR News

Stafford says he started coming to Haywood Congregation nearly a decade ago, when he was in the throes of addiction and homelesness. He’s been clean for six years, and he says, he’s happy to be able to give back.

“I know they get good food and stuff,” Stafford said. “But this is a chance to show them that they’re someone too. Just like all our friends out here on the streets.”

Stafford shared a table with Katie Button, owner of Curate -- one of the first restaurants to participate in the free meal service in 2013.

“And it’s more about the community of the dining table that heals than just the food,” Button said. “We all need food to live and survive, but we really need that community and that person to person connection to thrive.”

Haywood Street Congregation says it invited representatives from the more than 50 restaurants that currently partner with the Downtown Welcome Table.