Blog #15: Your Total Today Comes to: Three Buttons

A local eatery in Hamilton, Ontario has developed a new way of providing for the community, through the use of their own novel currency: buttons.

Officially opened in 2014, 541 Eatery and Exchange is a local registered charity that allows less fortunate customers to use buttons as a way to pay for their meals.

How it Works

Buttons can be purchased by customers at the cashier for $1. The buttons then go into a jar, and are used by those who can’t afford a nutritious meal that day. Every customer can use up to six buttons a day to purchase a snack or coffee, with most items being priced around $3 – $6 (or buttons).

The meal prices are kept low by relying on 80% volunteers and 20% paid staff, many patrons who eat at the café also volunteer there.

Executive Director, Sue Carr, opened the eatery as a means of creating a place with a good environment that serves nutritious and wholesome meals. Since opening, the eatery has evolved into a staple community hub, with people of diverse ages and backgrounds coming together to share this communal space.

A True Community Hub

The Eatery is more than just a place to grab a bite, it is truly a community hub, with additional free activities being held regularly, including a homework club, barista training, piano lessons and more.

Due to the success and a wide community acceptance of the eatery, a new initiative will be launched as part of the next phase of their mission. Just down the street from the Eatery, 541 will open a Community Kitchen, set to host a number of free community cooking groups, and even laundry facilities.

The 541 Eatery & Exchange is truly tackling food security issues in a new and innovative way that includes the whole community. To learn more about the awesome work they do visit their website here, and if you’re ever in Hamilton, stop by and see what it’s all about for yourself!

(Oh, and you might want to try a cookie…)

posted by Aria Palcich, November 8, 2016

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