Chattanooga didn't just gain a new restaurant with the opening of the Asheville, N.C.-based Tupelo Honey Cafe in Warehouse Row last month, it also gained a new community partner.
The restaurant is partnering with local nonprofits and elementary schools in the city to help educate the public about fresh, local foods and how to cook them.
"We look for organizations in every community that fits our core value of service," said Tupelo Honey Vice President of Marketing Elizabeth Sims. "We really believe in paying it forward and it's just who we are."
The Tupelo Honey Cafe team has visited Chattanooga groups, including the YMCA, Chattanooga Area Food Bank and Gaining Ground and Mobile Market, to develop programs with the organizations to promote healthy eating.
"It's important to give access to fresh produce in many areas, and we're all about nutrition and fresh food," Sims said. "So we really want to offer this type of support for the community."
The cafe's partnership with the Mobile Market kicked off with a three-day fundraiser, and will continue with cooking demonstrations for the community featuring seasonal produce.
"We'll demonstrate how to use the vegetable, say a squash for example, and then feed the group with a meal. And there will be baskets of produce and recipe cards to take," Sims explained.
In five city of Chattanooga elementary schools, a program beginning in January will bring farm-fresh foods to the classroom with specially constructed lessons for school students about the food.
"We have all of these teaching modules that go into all disciplines about healthy eating," Sims said. "And we just love working with kids and helping them learn. We'll bring a spaghetti squash ... and the kids are just amazed by it."
The schools program will begin in January at Calvin Donaldson, Orchard Knob, East Side, East Lake and Clifton Hills Elementary schools.
"We are thrilled to be in Chattanooga. We have just received the warmest welcome," Sims said.