Women & Children’s Free Restaurant & Community Kitchen (WCFR) is a two-time AGORA Award winning nonprofit that provides free, nutritious meals to women and children living in Spokane County, Washington. In response to the pandemic, WCFR provided over one million meals in 2020 and again in 2021 – ten times the amount during a typical, pre-pandemic year.
WCFR was founded in 1988, serving 15-20 weekly meals to women and children in the basement of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. The idea for the restaurant came from a local college student who, in her research, discovered the need for a dedicated place for women and children to receive a meal in a place safe from domestic violence.
WCFR continued to serve meals in the church’s basement until May of 2015. On June 2, 2015, we opened the restaurant in our new facility located at 1408 N. Washington. We now welcome thousands of women and children to the restaurant annually. Respect, dignity and a sense of community continue to be core values of our work and are an integral part of the services we offer.
Mission Statement: Women & Children’s Free Restaurant & Community Kitchen is a vital safety net that fills nutritional gaps for women and children in need while fostering dignity and respect, both within our restaurant and in the community.
- WCFR operates with a small paid staff of 6-8 employees and up to 150 weekly volunteers.
- WCFR has an active and occasional workforce of over 300 volunteers, which includes a volunteer board of directors and a teen leadership board.
- WCFR is a fully licensed restaurant and caterer required to adhere to the same health and safety requirements and standards established for all commercial restaurants.
- We usually serve three nutritious meals a week in the restaurant, and provide healthy meals to more than two dozen programs at other social services agencies and community centers. During the pandemic, we closed our dining room to provide meals and groceries curbside.
- In a typical year, we receive 50 tons of donated food each year, which are transformed into delicious, nutritious meals.
CORE PROGRAMS (PRE-PANDEMIC)
Restaurant Meals: We serve healthy meals in our restaurant three days a week. Our diners have a full restaurant experience – excellent service, a menu with choices and delicious meals. Our safe, caring environment provides women and children a place for dignified treatment, compassion and acceptance. All meals are provided free of charge.
Nutrition to Go: We currently partner with more than two dozen nonprofit agencies across the community to provide nutritious meals for their clients. All meals are provided free of charge – to the agencies and the citizens they serve. We do what we do best to support what they do best!
Nutrition Essentials: This program was developed to improve overall health and reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes through cooking workshops and goal setting for women’s health, and the health of their families. Participants receive a variety of whole foods, healthy ingredients and recipes to take home. In 2018, we hired a staff dietitian to lead the classes. In 2019, we added summer cooking camps for kids.