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Cafè works to feed the hungry
by Hélèna Katz

Cafe Sentropol, in Montreal, Canada, is the vehicle by which its three owners support their community.

Café Santropol features a menu designed to please, but also serves more people than just the customers at its tables.

Since it opened in Montreal’s Plateau Mont-Royal district in June 1976, partners Garth Gilker, Jennifer Luczynski and James Solkin have been donating 25 per cent of the eatery’s profits to community projects. “The place was opened on an idea, lots of energy and not much money,” Luczynski said. “We always thought if we made some money that it must be shared.”

Soups and sandwiches with names like Killer Tomato and Northern Lights are made in-house, but bread comes from a local bakery. “We buy all local products as much as possible from the neighborhood because we live here,” said Luczynski. “If we all help each other keep our heads above water, everyone will profit.”

Café Santropol’s philanthropy initially supported community projects in developing countries through international aid organizations. When recession hit Canada a few years ago, the partners turned their attention closer to home. Santropol Roulant, a local meals-on-wheels program started by two former café employees, is the prime beneficiary.

In the past year the café has begun using “fair trade” coffee and selling it to local organizations. The coffee comes directly from growers, cutting out the middleman so that producers make more money for their labor. “We’re trying to commercialize it because then it will hold its own against big companies,” said Luczynski. “What we want to see is good-quality fair trade coffee at a reasonable price that people can afford.”

Santropol has also developed its own line of herbal teas. Humani-tea, Curiosi-tea and Hospitali-tea are used to help local organizations and schools raise funds. “Instead of selling chocolates, they sell herbal teas,” Luczynski said. “The beauty of these teas is that the box was designed by local artists.”

Supporting the community through their café is just a part of who the three partners are, Luczynski said with a shrug. “I don’t think we could do it any other way - it’s in our blood.” (Source: American News Service) Helena Katz is a freelance journalist based in Montreal, Canada. Reproduced with the permission of Share International, PO Box 971, N. Hollywood, CA 91603 USA.