Slow Food Piedmont?

This past Saturday night I had the chance to get a look inside The Haven, Charlottesville's newly opened day shelter just off the Downtown Mall. Renovations were completed on the historic structure - a former church - mid-December; the place now offers a variety of services for the homeless and underserved in town, including laundry and shower facilities, counseling, and breakfasts made with fresh and local ingredients. The kitchen space is really something, with state of the art equipment and a spacious dining area that can seat up to about 80 people. The kitchen director hosted a potluck there over the weekend as a way to introduce some of us to the facilities, as well as to guage interest in the potential creation of a Slow Food: Albemarle/Piedmont chapter here in Central Virginia. All potluck attendees seemed plenty excited at the prospect of an organization centered around good food!

I am sure there will be opportunities for this emerging chapter to connect with the Slow Food: UVa unit that just got started up this fall. Though Slow Food sometimes receives criticism for being elitist in nature (the working class simply doesn't have the luxury of making sure that this or that heirloom tomato stays on the menu of a - probably expensive - restaurant), the organization exists most fundamentally to recreate the feeling of community that stems from gathering around a table and sharing a meal with your friends and neighbors. The Haven's kitchen looks to be emerging as an ideal gathering space for accomplishing that community building.

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