Editor’s note: This is the one of several letters we received about 12 Baskets Cafe from students at Francine Delany New School for Children before schools shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Also, though 12 Baskets’ community space is closed, the organization continues to distribute takeout meals at its Haywood Road site on Tuesdays and Fridays, according to its Facebook page.
Before visiting 12 Baskets, we assumed that we would simply be providing service to people who needed help; however, that proved to be incorrect. We came out of that experience with more knowledge than before about our community and their stories. We ate with the patrons and spoke just as we do during lunchtime at school. There, we learned that everyone has something to give, regardless of your bearing in society. Even if it’s something as small as a good story to tell, we all have value in our experiences.
Too often, our society encourages a mindset of cutthroat competition where individual people benefit from the downfall of others. 12 Baskets is shifting that narrative in teaching us that by offering small gestures, we can help our community thrive as a whole. Food is simply a medium for the connection of humanity, and the round tables being used at 12 Baskets keep everyone on the same level.
At 12 Baskets, you don’t have to pay for your meal, but one way you can repay is by lending a helping hand in the community. That could mean picking up trash off the sidewalk, washing dishes or helping clean the cafe when it’s closing. For example, Ronnie, a man who is often there and benefits greatly from their hospitality, pays 12 Baskets back by mopping the floor at the end of the day. His positivity is infectious, and his admirable work ethic and optimistic attitude rubs off on us and inspires us to help our community as well. Ronnie is proof that we all have something to give. Contributing in seemingly small ways can improve the quality of our lives. We realize that 12 Baskets is an essential part of our community, and we hope that you can realize that, too.
— Blake, Noah and Olivia
Students, Francine Delany New School for Children