Smile Politely

Saturday event at Exile assists those with food insecurity

Exile on Main Street hosted the Give a Little fundraiser on Saturday in support of the Jubilee Café CUCC, an organization in Champaign that serves meals every Monday evening for individuals in the community who deal with food insecurity.

Musical artists Nick Ailes, Ghoul Jr., and Kittens Incorporated played at the fundraiser, as did poet E. Majerus, who has participated in past Give a Little happenings.

Leah Robberts-Mosser, the pastor of the Community United Church of Christ, where the Jubilee Café is housed, also contributed poetry and music at the event.

The Jubilee Café began serving meals for folks in the community in October 2017. Thus far, its services have exceeded the expectations of co-founder Johnell Bentz, a professor at the College of Education at Illinois. In its first five months, the eatery has served more than 700 meals to more than 250 guests, individuals who have eaten at Jubilee at least once. The café has more than 100 volunteers and collaborates with numerous organizations in the community and on the University of Illinois campus.

Beyond the numbers, Bentz said the most important aspect of the weekly meals is the camaraderie that has developed between the volunteers and guests, lots of whom come back nearly every week. “While they are at Jubilee Café,” Bentz said, “many have a favorite server or enjoy speaking with Pastor Leah or find me as manager to catch up on the past week.”

Bentz said approximately half of its guests are students and staff of the University of Illinois, and the rest are community members without a permanent address.

The proceeds from the Saturday event will go toward food and supplies for the café. In particular, Bentz said the organization is looking to purchase a blast chiller for food processing and storage needs. Bentz said the plan for Jubilee is to continue to serve meals every Monday through October. After that, things could expand.

“We have lots of ideas on how to extend our reach and deal with issues of hunger and food insecurity,” she said.

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