Alongside reports of madness, disaster and unrest, a recent edition of Canada’s Globe and Mail featured a hopeful story about a special business venture in the heart of Hamilton’s North end — on Barton Street.
The 541 is gaining a reputation for its cheap, nutritious, family-friendly homemade meals. And, paying customers have an opportunity to purchase buttons, which folks without money can use to purchase a hot meal or a cup of coffee. But wait, there’s more – 541 employees earn a living wage and regular customers are given the opportunity to take a turn behind the counter, wait tables and welcome new customers. Some are getting great experience in the kitchen, which in turn helps them find paying gigs in Hamilton’s thriving restaurant sector. The café’s space and proceeds from food sales are also used to support a number of community initiatives: homework club, kitchen skills training, piano lessons, eating well workshops and more! 541 is a place of social exchange and social change – where people from all walks of life share the same access to healthy, delicious food in a welcoming, cheery space. There are no hand outs. This is a different kind of food charity – one that emphasizes dignity and equal access to the good food movement. If you can’t make it to Hamilton but like the idea you can visit their CanadaHelps.org page, buy some buttons or become a monthly donor.