TIPP CITY — At ConneXion Café, giving back to the community might be as simple as tipping a little extra on your next meal.
ConneXion Café is a “pay as you can” eatery operated out of the fellowship hall of CrossRoads Christian Fellowship, located on the corner of Third Street and Broadway. It is open every Saturday until Christmas, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The concept is simple, CrossRoads pastor Jim Valekis said. Customers are given a suggested price, and those who can afford to pay do. Those who can’t, simply pay what they can or eat for free.
Customers can also choose to “pay it forward,” by paying a little extra to help those who can’t afford to pay.
The goal is to feed those in the community who struggle with food insecurity, but also those with food security who are willing to share, Valekis said.
“In addition to just having a church and a church service, we wanted to do some type of outreach to the community that would make it a better place,” Valekis said. “We wanted to be a people of connection and to create places of connection.”
ConneXion Café was inspired by ONEBistro, a restaurant founded by Chef Rob Adamson in Miamisburg which also uses a “pay as you can” model. Last year, the church raised funds to help Adamson buy a food truck, which has visited the church’s ONEMarket and other activities.
ConneXion Café’s chef Christina Kindell has worked with Adamson and was inspired to try the concept in Tipp City, Valekis said.
“The food honestly is delicious. You really will get a good meal,” Valekis promised. The menu features sandwiches, salads and soups and suggested prices are between $6-$9.
ConneXion Café staff is staffed by volunteers, usually people who have been helped by the church’s programs in the past, Valekis said.
The café is still in the “soft open” stage, Valekis said. ConneXion Café opened for a few weeks during the holiday season in 2014 and is open until Dec. 19 this year. If all goes well, the church would like to open the café more frequently, Valekis said.
The café is part of a larger program: Crossroads Christian Fellowship’s ONEMarket. One feature of the market is a free market that helps people in the community who are in need of clothing, food, household items and more.
“ONEBistro stands for ‘our neighbors eat,’” Valekis said. “ONEMarket stands for ‘our neighbors empowered.’”
The church moved to their current location in 2008 and quickly decided to use the fellowship hall to house their community outreach programs.
“I came to the FREEMarket when my husband was laid off and we were on hard times. Little did I know that I would help run a part of the ONEMarket almost a year later,” Jen Cruea, FREEMarket coordinator, said. “This program helps people out, but it also lets people give back.”
The FREEMarket is focused on “free-cycling” gently used donated items to new homes. At ONEMarket, visitors can find products for sale from Miami County vendors.
The market is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The are no requirements for the FREEMarket and the church does not ask people for any proof of need, Cruea said.
The church’s programs are all supported by donations, Valekis said.
“We found that when we gave freely, people started giving back,” he added.