Grace Café faces challenges getting city funding

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DANVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ) Lines are backed up almost out the door on Father’s Day for Grace Cafe’s innovative pay what you can style dining. In it’s first year it’s fed about 13,000 people. Rochelle Bayless opened up Grace Café to address the 18 percent of people she says in Boyle county who don’t know where their next meal is coming from

She says, “Food insecurity is a real problem, and that’s what we’re here to attack.”

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Customers are asked to pay as much or as little as they can, no questions asked.

Bayless says, “We don’t ask people, you know, for their poor card. Se do not profile for poverty.”

And those that can’t pay at all become volunteers like Jessica Medley, who about a month ago fell into tough times and became homeless

Medley says, “Walking through those doors was actually the hardest part…Grace offered me the opportunity to volunteer for my work which still left me with most of my dignity in tact, all of my dignity actually.”

But the café’s no questions asked policy left a gray area for city commissioners when the café applied for 20,000 in public money to help it expand.

Mayor Mike Perros says, “The single reason that they weren’t approved for funding was because they could not present the statistical evidence required by the laws of the state of Kentucky in order to access taxpayer funds.”

Grace Café argues the public need for a place like theirs is definitely there. Right now they’re only open Wednesday thru Sunday. Bayless says sometimes customers come in after haven’t hadn’t eating in those two days they’re closed at all.

She says, “We have people who eat here every single day. That is their meal. So we need to be open every single day for this community.The community has asked to it and we’re doing our best to respond.”

The mayor says moving forward the cafe must be able to track how many people like Jessica it serves who are actually food insecure.

Mayor Perros says, “There’s no question that the concept is good. But when you access taxpayer dollars you got to be able to justify that.”

If you’d like to help Grace Café meet their goal to expand, you can donate to their crowdfunding campaign.