By NATHAN VOELLER/Montana State News
Bozeman’s Community Café has had no problems attracting visitors and volunteers since it opened in March last year, according to café spokesman Dustin Rothenberg.
Rothenberg said the Community Café, which serves warm food to community members free of charge from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. every day, is visited by 30 to 80 people or more each evening. Guests receive a main dish, which ranges from lobster ravioli to chili, depending on the types of food donated, and an assortment of side dishes.
Lori Christenson, the program coordinator of the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, has reported that more than 26,000 meals have been served since the café opened.
Homeless individuals are usually among those who appear each evening, according to Rothenberg. However, families, students and other community members also come for meals. Workers at the Community Café welcome all visitors in attendance and stress that the café is open and available to everyone.
“There is no judgment or stigma. We do not ask why you are here,” said Rothenberg.
To support the efforts of the Community Café, a number of faith and service organizations provide volunteers, gather donations and fulfill any other needs. Contributors include the Bozeman United Methodist Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Bozeman Seventh-day Adventist Church, according to the Human Resource Development Council.
Finding volunteers to assist with Community Café operations each night has been simple, according to Rothenberg. Organizations wishing to volunteer their services at the café may have to make a reservation weeks in advance. The Community Café has already had groups volunteering to serve next month.
Rothenberg said he feels the Community Café is an attractive place to volunteer.
“I love the atmosphere. Everyone is super appreciative of the service,” he said.
– Edited by Patrick Carroll