By Cindy Adams


"Did you know you can eat raw seeds right off a dried sunflower?" Robert asked the question, but he already knew the answer. On this day, a fallen sunflower served as a reminder of the value of a single seed in the creation of something new. The sunflower garden belongs to Open Door Cafe, a non-profit in the town of Wytheville, born out of an idea to feed the needy and hungry in the community. Robert and his Minnick classmates provide daily support to this organization.

"When we have young people feeding their friends and neighbors, that’s an important life lesson," explained Mike Pugh, Director of Food Operations, Hope, Inc. Executive Director. "People need to understand that hunger is not just in big cities. It is in our own communities, and the Minnick students are certainly pitching in to make a difference in theirs."

Wytheville Minnick Principal Bill Sutherland and other leaders forged this new partnership between Open Door Café and Wytheville Minnick by inquiring if they would provide breakfast and lunch to both the Main and the Adapted schools. After learning more about the Minnick students, the staff at Open Door Café enthusiastically agreed and explored ways to also get the students involved in this important community outreach. This mutually beneficial partnership translates into 45-50 breakfasts and lunches delivered to the students each day and both financial and hands-on support for this relief program aimed at hunger.

"We are so appreciative that Minnick asked us to partner to feed the students. It’s a great relationship," said Mike. "We take pride in sending them food they enjoy, and we are quickly learning what they like and don’t like."

The relationship includes some special requests and understandings. The students consider onions and green peppers to be deal-breakers, for example, so lunch menus steer clear of those ingredients.

Each morning, Minnick students help with some of the tasks at the cafe. They may roll napkins, fold towels, sweep floors, shovel gravel — even plant seeds. Working at Open Door Café enables students to develop employable skills and interact with the community. They are eager to do both!

Open Door Café is part of a larger ministry called "One World Everybody Eats" that operates across the country. By decreasing food insecurity, they are also trying to make the world a more loving place. Like enCircle, their work has grown from a small idea to a network of programs.

It starts with a seed.