JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - A Fall Branch teacher who noticed some of her students having trouble reading quickly learned it was because they were hungry.
Jan Orchard would bring the kids muffins to help them focus.
Since then, Orchard has discovered hunger is a bigger problem than most people realize in our region and she wanted to help make a difference for those in need.
Now her vision of a community café is about to become a reality.
Right now, crews are hard at work at the site of the restaurant on Walnut Street in Johnson City.
Jan Orchard is the founder and executive director of One Acre Café. "It's amazing what God has done here," said Orchard.
Her goal is to make this restaurant a place where people can come to eat -- regardless of their ability to pay -- without feeling like they're asking for a handout. If you don't have cash, you can do some volunteer work. "Maybe bus some tables perhaps, or we've got some gardens outside and we'd love for you to work in the gardens for a little bit. Perhaps there's some work in the kitchen that needs to be done," said One Acre's general manager Bryan Orchard.
One Acre Café may also be a stepping stone for customers just trying get back on their feet. "We'd like to be able to take you and train you in the kitchen. Perhaps you're going to be a prep cook. Perhaps we can train you to be one of the chefs," said Bryan Orchard.
The training could lead to jobs outside the restaurant as well; One Acre plans to network with other area businesses. "[We want to say,] 'We've had this individual at the café for four or five months and we've trained him in this skill. Maybe you can hire this person," Bryan said.
The other thing One Acre brings to the table is a sense of community. "Outside of the building I can see the people eating inside. I can see the talking and the sharing. I can just sense that something very important is going to happen here," said an emotional Jan Orchard.
One Acre Café is scheduled to open in September, with a grand opening to be held in October.
Although many items have already been donated, like countertops, kitchen equipment and an awning, One Acre still needs $50,000 to get things up and running.
If you would like to learn more, you can go to the One Acre Café Facebook page.
- Updated State Police: Man killed in Wise County, VA crash
- New Former Derby, Preakness winner Charismatic dies
- Dozens disappointed after local legislators a no-show at meeting in Johnson City
- Crews will scale back the search effort for a missing man on South Holston Lake
- Democratic candidate for Virginia Governor discusses improving Southwest Virginia economy