MANITOWOC (NBC 26) Getting good food with dignity is what the local nonprofit Grow it Forward is working on in Manitowoc County. The organization’s mission is to combat food insecurity by providing healthy food options to the community. Now, the nonprofit is opening a café that will do just that.
Harmony Café opens January 8 at the Marshall Street location. The cafe partners with local farmers and businesses in Wisconsin to provide locally sourced food, with all proceeds going back to the Grow It Forward mission to fight hunger.
“The idea behind Café Harmony is that everything will be local, Wisconsin food that we put on our menu,” said cafe manager Matthew Brook.
Many of the menu items will include fresh hydroponic vegetables grown indoors 365 days a year at Grow It Forward. The café will serve items such as salads, wraps and breakfast items and will also have a café. Amber Daugs, CEO and founder of Grow It Forward, says the café will provide much-needed high-quality food in an area where many people are food insecure.
“Here in this particular neighborhood, there’s the elementary school about three blocks away with about 50 percent of its students eligible for free or discounted meals,” said Daggs.
The goal of the café is to provide more healthy food in a neighborhood known as the food desert with little access to groceries.
20% of our county’s food-insecure population lives in this immediate neighborhood. What that means is that individuals have a hard time getting healthy local foods because it is a distance to travel to a grocery store.”
“People don’t have local access to grocery stores without relying on public translation or other means to get there,” Brooke said.
Daugs says limited access to grocery stores has also led to a health epidemic. While gas stations are currently the closest place to shop for many people, a coffee shop will provide people with a nearby resource from which they can access fresh food.
“Right now in Manitowoc County, 72% of our county is overweight, and 42% are obese,” Dogs said. “So we want to not only showcase healthy options in our neighborhood but also accessible options as well.”
The café will be open from 8am to 4pm from Wednesday to Saturday. Grow It Forward is also currently looking at more partnerships with Wisconsin companies. To learn more, you can visit the Grow It Forward website.