We congratulate the Hungry Heart Café on becoming the first Buy Social certified member in Atlantic Canada! Buy Social Canada is a marketing program that is designed to bring together social enterprise suppliers with government and corporate purchasers.. Both sellers and buyers can receive certification on http://buysocialcanada.ca, and certification is FREE to the first 100 suppliers in Atlantic Canada who sign up. Hungry Heart Café is a full-service restaurant and catering business located in historic Rawlin’s Cross, St. John’s, NL. They focus on creating nutritious meals that are full of flavour. Almost everything is made in house - whether it’s the ice cream, smoked salmon, mayonnaise - it’s amazing the quality of the food they serve. Creating meals that are healthy, delicious, and nutritious, whether it’s for in-house dining or catering, is their focus.
However, there’s more to the Hungry Heart than just its food. “It’s a lovely café that has outstanding food - but a much bigger mission - to provide training and employment to participants of Stella’s Circle.” says Lisa Browne, CEO of Stella’s Circle. Stella’s Circle is the non-profit community organization that runs Hungry Heart Café. Stella’s Circle offers affordable housing and housing assistance, residential, community and correctional-based counselling and employment and education programs. “ Stella’s Circle had its roots over 70 years ago - and we’ve really grown since then.”
Hungry Heart Café, which was started by Stella’s Circle in 2008, helps vulnerable adults access careers in the food service industry so that they can achieve independence and realize their dreams. Every penny of revenue generated by the Hungry Heart Café goes right back into the operation to fund employment training of its participants.
Starting Hungry Heart Café as a social enterprise was a very intentional action on the part of Stella’s Circle. “We were noticing that participants of Stella’s Circle needed work experience. We learned at conferences about social enterprises that were café and catering businesses, and we decided on that.”
When asked what makes Hungry Heart so interesting, Lisa mentioned the life-changing skills that the café provides, “Employees range from people who haven’t worked before, to individuals learning new skills, to someone who has had work experience. Some participants who didn’t know they were interested in food are now pursuing work in the culinary trade. Others have the confidence and experience to pursue work in other areas.”
Joining Buy Social Canada was a natural progression for the Hungry Heart, which has supported buying local and social enterprise. “We have local vendors for things like office supplies,” says Lisa Browne, “and we’ve always had the mantra to buy local and support local independent businesses.” Networking and finding more buyers and sellers through Buy Social Canada will be useful for the Hungry Heart. “We hope people will notice the certification and will choose us because of that, because of our mission and what we hope to achieve. More and more people are aware of what they’re buying and where they’re shopping, and their impact - and this is a way to distinguish ourselves from others in how we do that.”
That said, the Hungry Heart deals with misperceptions of their role as a social enterprise. “There are people who think that because we have a restaurant that we’re completely self-sufficient,” says Browne, “but that’s simply not true.. We have more than one bottom line, and we’re cognizant of our social focus , while also attempting to be as financially successful as possible. .”
Business for food is alive and well in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Hungry Heart is looking to share its success with other social enterprises who sign up to the Buy Social certification. “We’re really excited about the Buy Social certification and are excited to connect with other members who join,” says Browne. “We hope others will join so we can support one another.”
Learn more about Buy Social Canada and sign up on http://BuySocialCanada.ca.