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October 5, 2023 | Food

Groundswell Cafe celebrates five years of paying it forward

Since 2018, Groundswell has connected people socially, reduced food insecurity, and provided a healthy eating opportunity for everyone.

cornmeal fried eggplant wrap

For five years, people have been able to eat delicious food at a local café that is unlike any other in the state. When their meal is rung up, guests have had the joy of being able to pay-it-forward by giving a little extra to support those who are hungry in our community. Over the course of five years, these actions have allowed Groundswell Cafe to give away nearly $200,000 in free and reduced-cost meals. Just as important, the Cafe has provided a safe, welcoming space for many who feel ignored and pushed away by society.

All of this and more will be celebrated as part of Groundswell’s 5th birthday. The cafe will be doing a week-long birthday celebration from October 9-14 with live music, free birthday cookies, and a variety of fall-themed specials, such as pumpkin cinnamon rolls, pumpkin spice coffee, and pumpkin chai tea.

Clint Twedt-Ball, Founder and Executive Director of Matthew 25, says of the celebration, “Really, what we’re celebrating this week is one of those glimmers of hope in society, a good news story. For five years, we’ve run a space where the wealthiest in our community break bread in the same space as the most destitute. The food is critically important, but even more important is the belief that we can each pay it forward to make someone else’s life a little easier. What would it be like if many of our whole society just naturally shared to help out someone else?”

Matthew 25 opened Groundswell Cafe on October 8, 2018 as Iowa’s first and only pay-it-forward café. It operates similar to a regular café with a menu featuring soups, salads, sandwiches, omelets and smoothies, however anyone who can’t afford to pay can order and enjoy a meal at no cost. This is thanks to the café’s Pay-it-Forward Fund. Instead of accepting tips, customers are encouraged to leave a donation to the Pay-it-Forward Fund and all money raised is used to cover the costs of the free meals.

Groundswell Cafe emphasizes local, healthy food, with as many of the ingredients as possible supplied by what Matthew 25 grows less than a mile away at their Cultivate Hope Urban Farm, and the rest is sourced from local and organic suppliers. It also serves a selection of fair-trade coffee and teas, and has a variety of baked goods available.

Groundswell Cafe is located next to the Matthew 25 office at 201 3rd Ave. SW in Cedar Rapids, and is open from 7 am-2 pm, Monday-Saturday.

Learn more about Groundswell

To keep up with Matthew 25, check out our What’s Happening page, search our Events Calendar, or visit the Volunteer page to find ways to get involved!