With the help of Georgia Southern and its students, along with a new partnership with the Food Bank, Rebecca’s Café serves free meals to upwards of 80 people two days a week.
“Given the limited resources that Statesboro has to offer its people, which pretty much borders on zero, you have a place like Rebecca’s that actually takes the time and makes the effort to provide a meal for these people that really appreciate these things,” Jim, a patron of Rebecca’s Café who requested that his last name not be used in this article, said.
The café was founded by Rebecca Murray and her church, Trinity Episcopal. Rebecca’s Cafe has grown immensely since its opening five years ago, when they served only eight people.
After their recent move to the unoccupied cafeteria in the former Julia P. Bryant Elementary School, Rebecca’s Café partnered with the Food Bank to increase their capacity to serve the hungry of Statesboro. The partnership allows Rebecca’s Café to utilize foods donated to the Food Bank and opens up a channel to purchase foods through the USDA.
“There’s a sense of community here. People don’t just eat and run, there are people who have been sitting here for a half an hour, just shooting the breeze,” Jim Bastarache, the general manager and director of Rebecca’s Cafe, said.
Karen, a patron of Rebecca’s Cafe who also didn’t wish to share her last name, echoed this sentiment.
“When I come here, it makes me feel welcome. It’s one big family, and every Tuesday and Thursday I look forward to coming here to be with my family,” Karen said.
Georgia Southern students helped refurbish the cafeteria over a two-week period by painting the walls, a multi-piece mural and three directional signs around the property.
“I’ve been there before. [I was] hungry, didn’t know where my next meal is going to come from, and that was before I got into college. Even when I was younger, I wish I had something like the Food Bank or Rebecca’s Cafe where I knew I could get a meal, so that’s why I volunteer,” Carolynn Nixon, a sophomore political science major and member of Southern Leaders, said.
Up to 13 to 15 organizations currently volunteer with Rebecca’s Café, cooking, serving and cleaning up one day a month. Georgia Southern University Food Services volunteer the second Thursday of the month. Organizations wishing to volunteer may contact Jim Bastarache at (781) 254-2012.