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LUCAP works to combat hunger

Loyola+student+volunteers+and+members+of+Crescent+City+Cafe+prepare+to+serve+breakfast+to+homeless+individuals+at+Rayne+Memorial+United+Methodist+Church+on+a+Saturday+morning.+Photo+credit%3A+Amy+Ngo
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LUCAP works to combat hunger

Loyola student volunteers and members of Crescent City Cafe prepare to serve breakfast to homeless individuals at Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church on a Saturday morning. Photo credit: Amy Ngo

Loyola student volunteers and members of Crescent City Cafe prepare to serve breakfast to homeless individuals at Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church on a Saturday morning. Photo credit: Amy Ngo

Loyola student volunteers and members of Crescent City Cafe prepare to serve breakfast to homeless individuals at Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church on a Saturday morning. Photo credit: Amy Ngo

Loyola student volunteers and members of Crescent City Cafe prepare to serve breakfast to homeless individuals at Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church on a Saturday morning. Photo credit: Amy Ngo

Amy Ngo

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Twice a month, Loyola students gather around tables to eat breakfast but not in the Orleans Room. The Loyola University Community Action Program comes together with Crescent City Cafe to serve meals to over 100 homeless people and those in need on Saturday mornings at Rayne Memorial United Methodist Church. Creating a level playing field for all involved is what Crescent City Cafe is all about.

“Our mission is to feed the homeless with dignity. We want to help people recognize that homelessness doesn’t define a person and allow people to see that this is an opportunity for all,” said Adelle Bergman, executive director of Crescent City Cafe.

At 7 a.m., chatter became louder as people flooded the restaurant and tables filled up. Servers were greeting their guests and taking drink and food orders. It wasn’t long before plates of breakfast croissants and french toast were being brought out from the kitchen and the guests were filling their stomachs.

Smiles formed on everyone’s faces as conversations filled the room. Everyone was just happy to be there.

“This is one of the best breakfasts I have ever had. I’ll definitely be coming back,” said Donald, a Crescent City Cafe first-timer.

Most of the people who come through the doors are homeless or are sheltered at The Salvation Army, but sometimes there are students who are just short on money, Bergman said. They’re not looking for much, just a sense of community and a good meal.

“I love coming to volunteer with the Crescent City Cafe. I came once my freshman year and felt like I was meant to be here, like I was supposed to come back so I did,” said Jessica Hawkins, Project Leader of Hunger Relief.

Hawkins, a criminal justice senior, has been a member of LUCAP since her freshman year and felt like this was her calling to put her Jesuit education into action.

“Hunger Relief helps us serve with and for others. I see the Jesuit teachings every time I come here because not only am I doing this with other volunteers, the ultimate goal of Crescent City Cafe is that we are serving for the growth of others,” Hawkins said.

Hunger Relief is one of the six service projects offered under the LUCAP umbrella. It has been an aspect of the LUCAP identity since its founding in 1975. Since then, the project has seen its ups and downs. From working at the local food banks when Hunger Relief was founded, to being chased out of Lafayette Square in 2003 for giving away sandwiches without permits, Hunger Relief’s efforts to reduce food insecurity in New Orleans has been ongoing with the cafe’s help.

As they welcomed in their 15,000th guest on Saturday, organizers like Bergman are excited to see how much more the organization can grow. Crescent City Cafe has been at Rayne Memorial for 10 years and is hoping to expand to a full-time “pay-what-you-can” cafe in the uptown area, Bergman said. They’re always looking for more young-adult volunteers and welcome LUCAP’s Hunger Relief program anytime.

“We are still practicing the same mission we put in place 10 years ago, and with the continuous help of the Loyola community, we will continue to see change,” Bergman said. “We want you to keep coming back. You guys are changing the world.”

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LUCAP works to combat hunger