Breaking bread with family is a time-honored tradition among African Americans. The movie Soul Food is one example of how families take the time to share gossip and even resolve issues while sharing dinner with shrimp and grits, collard greens, biscuits, mac and cheese, and fried chicken. The Breaking Bread Café on West Broadway in North Minneapolis is that special sit-down place that serves comfort food with a home-away-from-home kind of atmosphere.
The café is part of the nonprofit, community-based organization Appetite for Change (AFC). LaChelle Cunningham, executive chef for Breaking Bread, said AFC envisions sustainable, local food systems created and led by socially connected families and communities.
While Cunningham was in her last month of culinary school, she met with AFC’s executive director and co-founder Michelle Horovitz, along with the other co-founders, LaTasha Powell and Princess Titus. Said Cunningham, “They [seemed to be] impressed by the fact that I was in culinary school, owned my own catering business, and had all those years of administration in my background.”
With Cunningham’s education, professional skills and abilities, and the help of a quality team, Breaking Bread Café has become a cornerstone in the community in the relatively short time since it opened its doors on April 29, 2015. AFC is also a resource for outreach with Community Cooks as its flagship program. This is a cooking class where people can “cook together, eat together, and talk about assorted topics and areas of progress in the community,” Cunningham said proudly.
After multiple meetings over the years and with over 250 community members, one topic kept coming up: Where can families access nutritional food and learn how to grow their own produce? “So…the project of urban gardening started, “said Cunningham.
Appetite for Change currently has 10 gardening sights around North Minneapolis where food is grown, aggregated and sold at the West Broadway Farmers Market every week in the summer. The produce is also sold to Breaking Bread Café and other local restaurants in the community.
Besides food access, Breaking Bread and Appetite for Change extend their mission into social change. Cunningham told the MSR, “Policy issues, activism, and advocacy work and giving back, specifically on the North Side, around food access is [important]. Some people call it a food desert; some people call it a food swamp. But what it really is, is a lack of wholesome, healthy, nutritious food that is readily accessible to all people.”
She continued, “A lot of times we [must] go outside the Northside community to get certain amenities and certain things. While [our neighborhood is] full of fast food places, fried food places, liquor stores, corner stores and processed food…, there is only one grocery store on West Broadway and one full-stretch restaurant, and that is Breaking Bread. Our goal is to have more restaurants like ours that make [everything] from scratch.”
Tasty food and good company make for a stronger community. Breaking Bread and Appetite for Change are about creating change for the community from within the community.
Brandi D. Phillips welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
Brandi Phillips is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.