RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — A business in Rapid City is allowing people to pay-what-they-can for a warm meal in a nice setting. And until it closes its door, the restaurant plans to continue serving the community in this way.
Rhonda Pearcy was a teacher before she founded Fork Real Community Cafe.
“I love teaching and I still think if you are a true teacher you will always be a teacher and so just from that I was lead to step aside and saw a lot of kids were in need of food,” Rhonda Pearcy, founder of Fork Real Cafe, said.
With that thought in mind, she decided to change directions on her career path.
“God asked me to take my two passions which is food and people and put it together and so this is the creation of that so bringing people together. Food is just that kind of centerpiece that everyone has to eat,” Rhonda Pearcy said.
When people dine at Fork Real Cafe, they can pay for their meal, pay-it-forward, or pay-what-you-can and volunteer to cover the meal.
“We didn’t want to repeat or reinvent the wheel of what any other nonprofit was doing in town, there’s no need to do that,” David Pearcy, Co-Founder, said.
Fork Real Cafe has been around for four and a half years now. Run by Rhonda, her husband David, and the countless amount of volunteers.
“We rely heavily on volunteers that come and help us do this. So every day, Tuesday through Fridays and on Sundays there’s probably 8 to 9 volunteers that show up to help us do this lunch service,” David Pearcy said.
In the last two years alone, David Pearcy says the volunteers have accumulated over 30,000 hours of service.
“Our team in the back is amazing, we get to work with all different kinds of people with all different skill levels so if you’re a teacher, it’s a great way to teach people how we do stuff. And you get to recognize the skills that people have and use those to the best of their ability,” April Olivas, volunteer, said.
April Olivas has been a volunteer for about two years. She works as a dispatcher and volunteers two to three times a week.
“I think it’s great for families because one, they can come in and eat this delicious food and two, they get to learn that work ethic. But my daughters come in and they have volunteered too with me when they don’t have school,” Olivas said.
While the restaurant has its loyal customers, it often has new customers as well.
“I really like the mission they have here, I’ll be honest, this was great. It felt cozy and comfortable, I could have a conversation, there’s not a bunch of loud music playing and the food was great,” Brett Bassham, customer, said.
Fork Real Cafe has a food pantry where people can take items they need or donate items that they don’t need.
“So hygiene items so if you need hygiene items, you take the hygiene items, if you have extra because you’ve been traveling, you give it back. The food is the same thing, we have people that come in and bring canned food,” Rhonda Pearcy said.
With COVID-19 guidelines changing everyday, Rhonda says they have several options for taking precautions. Meals can be delivered curbside or you can call ahead to have your meal picked up.
“We want you to feel comfortable whether it is sitting at our table or it is taking it out and we want to provide that food for kids that may not be getting it, families that may not,” Rhonda Pearcy said.
“We’ll be back, we’ll definitely be back,” customers said.