If You Are Hungry, There Is Room At Our Table
Trinity Cafe is a free restaurant that offers meals to homeless, hungry, and food insecure. Guests are asked for nothing in return – no mandatory religious services, counseling or proof of need. Our restaurant quality meals are prepared by a professional chef and served by volunteer servers. Guests sit at cloth-covered tables set with dishes and silverware.
Food for Thought
Many of Trinity Cafe’s guests are homeless and jobless. But the food insecure have quickly become a segment of the population who find themselves at our door – often running out of money before the end of the month to feed themselves and their families. Women, children, the elderly, and physically and mentally challenged individuals comprise many of the multitudes we serve. Their stomachs are empty, and they are eager to receive a nourishing meal – for many the only food they will eat all day.
The mission of Trinity Cafe is to restore a sense of dignity to the homeless and hungry while serving a nutritious meal. We faithfully treat all of God’s children with acceptance, compassion, love and respect.
One in six people in our region don’t know where their next meal will come from. Many at-risk children won’t eat between Friday lunch and Monday breakfast provided at school. Each day, Trinity Cafe addresses the nutritional needs of the hungry and homeless of Tampa Bay by serving a well-balanced, restaurant quality meal. It is served with unconditional respect and a sense of dignity. Nutrition is critical to the well-being of those facing “Food Insecurity” in our community. We strive to ensure no one goes away hungry.
Making It Happen – Jeff’s Story
“Jeff and his children would visit some of the local parks with fried chicken and offer a meal and conversation to their homeless neighbors, but it wasn’t enough.”
For many years, Jeff attended mass at a downtown Tampa church. He was moved to action when he saw the number of homeless men and women on the steps of his downtown Tampa church seeking help. He and his children would visit some of the local parks with fried chicken and offer a meal and conversation to their homeless neighbors, but it wasn’t enough.
After a priest encouraged Jeff to examine how the church might serve the homeless population, he took advantage of his business travels to research how cities like Atlanta and Chicago served the homeless. Jeff was moved to act when he realized that few – if any – cities provided a place where the homeless could eat on a daily basis without condition. His vision quickly took shape: a free restaurant offering a respite from the street and a delicious, three-course meal served in an environment of dignity, care, and respect.
“The one-on-one conversation and relationship-building he modeled in the parks with his children was the foundation of the model that would establish Trinity Cafe.”
Jeff has been a humble servant working quietly, tirelessly, and persistently for 15 years to make Trinity Cafe succeed. As a volunteer, advocate, and champion, he takes every opportunity to invite someone to join him for lunch at the cafe. He isn’t looking for accolades or fame; he firmly believes that this is God’s work. His mission is to ensure that Trinity Cafe thrives and serves as a model around the nation and the world. His legacy and the legacy of Trinity Cafe will be a consistent presence of unconditional love in this community. It all starts with a nutritious and delicious meal.
You Can Make It Happen
Trinity Cafe’s model of unconditional service can be replicated in any community. Our guidance is intended as a starting point to begin discernment, conversation and planning the launch of a Trinity Cafe. We ask that the intent and model, which is to restore a sense of dignity to the hungry and homeless while serving a nutritious meal, is followed, and to do so in an environment of unconditional service with acceptance, compassion, love, and respect.
Core values include:
Unconditional service to the hungry and homeless in your community
Intentional community around a dining room table
Restaurant-quality meals in a restaurant-style setting
Volunteer-led and community supported
Margaret Meade said, “Never doubt that a thoughtful and committed group of citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
You will need a network of people to help you succeed. Develop a core group of committed individuals to begin this effort. A steering committee can help with planning, leadership, vetting locations, communication and community engagement. Word of mouth, development, marketing, and communications will be critical to success.
For more information on how you can adopt the Trinity Cafe “model” in your community “to restore a sense of dignity to the homeless and hungry while serving a nutritious meal,” download our Fact Sheet below and/or contact Mandy Cloninger, Executive Director.
Trinity Cafe has been successful because the local community supports these efforts. Generous donors, individuals, businesses and foundations support the organization financially and with volunteer support. This effort was cultivated and developed with a core group of individuals from the beginning and continues today.