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Meals provide nourishment for body, soul

Every third Thursday in the month, there's a delicious smell of warm food and a friendly atmosphere of camaraderie that fills the kitchen and dining hall at Cleveland County Rescue Mission. Those Thursday evenings are when Common Ground Cafe hosts a pop-up event to bring together area residents for a delicious meal that is available for whatever price the diner can afford to pay.

Founded in February 2017, Common Ground Cafe was the brain-child of Shelby resident Nancy Hillman.

"Common Ground Cafe is a non-profit paywhat- you-can restaurant," says Hillman. "Our desire is to alleviate hunger and promote health by offering nourishing, high quality, local food on a pay-what-youcan basis."

Each month, guest chefs provide an intriguing and varied menu for the pop-up cafe. This month the theme is "Farmers & Friends Festival" and is hosted by Lafayette Street Grill & Pub. It will feature foods from the Mardet Family Farm, Sisk Farm, Knobb Creek Orchard, Greene Family Farm, Lewis Farms, and Blue Goat Dairy. The event will take place on Thursday, Feb. 20 from 5:30 - 7 p.m.at the Cleveland County Rescue Mission, 1100 Buffalo St., Shelby.

"This should be a really fantastic meal with lots of fresh, wonderful produce from these local farmers," says Hillman.

According to Feeding America, a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks,in 2010 19.6% of the population in North Carolina were food insecure. This statistic marked the state as the eighth hungriest place in the United States. In fact, one in four children in North Carolina is food insecure.

"It was this need that drove me, along with other individuals in this community, to seek a way to help meet this need and drive out hunger from Cleveland County," says Hillman. "It is our goal to serve meals that nourish the body while in an environment that nurtures the soul.

" To volunteer or for more information about the cafe, visit www.commongroundcafenc.org, search for "Common Ground Cafe" on Facebook, or call (704) 981-0991.

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