The Grateful Bowl



 85,000 Farm Fresh Meals Served Annually by  Pay-it-Forward Donation Program

Everyone wants to believe that their actions, coupled with a little faith and steadfast commitment, can change the world.  For 6 years, Café Gratitude has been operating on this principle, and contributing to the health of the greater Bay Area by serving a menu of organic vegan food. Their food is grown with love at local farms, including Café Gratitude’s “Be Love Farm,” and is intended to revitalize the Earth where our meals begin, and the bodies and spirits of all who dine there.

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In January of 2009, Café Gratitude responded to widespread economic challenges in their community by offering a pay-it-forward donation bowl.  “I am Grateful” is an all organic farm fresh meal: raw kale and rice or quinoa topped with black beans and garlic tahini dressing. The Grateful Bowl is served to anyone who asks, for whatever price they can pay.   Café Gratitude invites those in the community who cannot afford to pay the suggested price of the bowl ($7) to pay what they can and to practice receiving and being cared for.  The Café invites those in the community who can afford their own meal to express their gratitude by paying more than $7 when possible to contribute to the next person’s meal.



“Our food and people are a celebration of our aliveness. We select the finest organic ingredients to honor the earth and ourselves, as we are one and the same. We support local farmers, sustainable agriculture and environmentally friendly products.”

The Grateful Bowl Program has 3 Objectives:

  1. Provide one local organic vegan meal per person per day to everyone that requests it.  This goal reflects a desire to provide access to preventative healthcare through diet and education, to support local organic farms, and to create a sense of abundance by inviting the community to practice giving and receiving.  

2. Reduce waste internally and externally. By offering the grateful bowl as an affordable dine-in meal, Café Gratitude hopes to redirect community funds from waste-intensive take-out and fast food options.  Compost generated at the restaurants is returned to the Be Love Farm to nourish the next harvest.  

3. Meet its own expenses for the cost of food, preparation, and service, while increasing Café Gratitude’s purchasing from local organic farms.


Increasing the accessibility and affordability of Farm-To-Fork Meals in the Bay Area


Café Gratitude currently serves over 150 grateful bowls every day in its 6 Bay Area locations.  This offering accounts for approximately 30% of our customer visits, and amounts to approximately 37,000 farm fresh meals served every year.  The Grateful Bowl invites a wide demographic to participate in eating healthy sustainable food.  Café Gratitude is proud to be a resource for love, generosity, compassion, and self-care for this community.

The Grateful Bowl is a high fiber, protein rich meal that contributes to community health and feelings of abundance.  It is available as far as 50 miles north and south of San Francisco, and 70% of its ingredients are harvested within 100 miles of San Francisco.


The Grateful Bowl is not a menu item that Café Gratitude is seeking to profit from.  They are, however, committed to meeting their own expenses in order to care for the farms, vendors, and employees they support.  The average price paid per Grateful Bowl is $4.13.  The Gross Profit Margin of the Grateful Bowl is 51.6%, compared to most menu items which have a Gross Profit Margin of 70-75%.  With this profit margin, the Grateful Bowl is able to pay for its own food, labor, and transportation.  It does not pay for the company’s rent, insurance, equipment or other overhead costs.  Café Gratitude did not incur any implementation costs for this offering, and the program is currently sustained by its own revenue.  As such, Café Gratitude considers this project as being 100% community funded.


Supporting local farms by increasing company revenue and purchasing 

Since the inception of the Grateful Bowl program in January 2009, Café Gratitude has more than doubled its local produce purchasing (219%).  Café Gratitude now spends over $75,000 each month on fresh produce from local farmers and the distributors that represent them.  By next January, they expect this figure to rise to $90,000.

 In addition to supporting nearby farms, Café Gratitude has used this increased demand to establish their own biodynamic organic farm in Vacaville, CA.  As of August 2010, the Be Love Farm provides over 1/3 of Café Gratitude’s fresh produce, including raw kale, parsley and garlic for the Grateful Bowl Farm-to-fork_chart

The farm also serves as an educational resource to the community.  Anyone can volunteer at the farm, gaining the technical knowledge and experience needed to begin growing local food.  This experience is often a catalyst for inspiration, community collaboration, and authentic engagement with one’s food and diet.

Reducing Solid Waste Internally and Externally


Cafe Gratitude promotes sustainable resource use by only using 100% recyclable and compostable to go containers.  In doing so, they divert 19,200 lbs of solid waste from the landfill annually.  This choice represents $120,000 spent yearly to support environmentally friendly packaging companies. While customers can order a Grateful bowl to go for the set price of $7, most choose to pay a suggested donation and have a dine-in experience.  This policy reduces packaging use by an additional 3,000 lbs per year.


 CompostCafé Gratitude also reduces internal waste by sending 100,000 lbs. of compost to their Be Love Farm each year.  This completes the company’s carbon cycle, nourishes the soil, and keeps our food vibrant and rich in micronutrients.  It also adds efficiency to our shipping rotation, avoiding sending empty trucks up to the farm to gather produce. The Grateful Bowl program reduces waste externally by providing a healthy, affordable meal option to people who would otherwise be forced into eating cheap fast food, which is highly processed, environmentally destructive and solid waste intensive.


Feeding the Masses, Preserving the Earth, and Planting the Future


The Grateful Bowl program has been a success since its inception, reaching huge audiences by word-of-mouth and drawing people from all walks of life, including many who live on the street, into the Café.  The program required no initial investment and has met its own costs since its inception.  It has allowed Café Gratitude to increase local farm spending while reducing solid waste and providing affordable farm fresh meals to the greater bay area.

In 20 months of running the grateful bowl program, Café Gratitude has served 93,000 affordable organic farm fresh meals.  In that time period their farm direct spending increased to 213% (to $76,800).  The program has also led to the reduction of 120,000 lbs. of solid waste annually.


Café Gratitude is committed to sustaining the Be Love Farm as a source of fresh produce, a community educational resource and an accessible reminder that all food is a gift of love.  Café Gratitude is proud to actively support local farms, environmentally friendly businesses and the health and well being of all who dine with them.   

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 This number reflects the percentage of revenue that is not spent on the cost of food.

Last Updated on Jan062012

Gratitude !

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