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‘People shouldn’t have to go hungry’: Halifax cafe launches token program to feed those in need

Click to play video 'Halifax café launches initiative aimed at helping those in need' Halifax café launches initiative aimed at helping those in need
WATCH: ‘The Nook’ on Gottingen Street is giving customers the chance to purchase a coffee or a hot meal for someone in need. Jennifer Grudic has more on the unique approach to paying it forward.

A downtown Halifax cafe is launching a new initiative aimed at lending a helping hand to those in need.

Customers who visit The Nook on Gottingen Street are now able to purchase “tokens” representing either a coffee and a bagel for $2, or a meal for $5.

In an area currently grappling with gentrification, co-owner Nicole Myles Brook says she and her husband were looking for a way to help bridge the gap.

“I think when we were first taking over here on Gottingen Street and getting to know the community, we were seeing a need that needed to be filled where people seemed to be going hungry and facing food insecurity,” said Myles Brook.

“What we wanted to do as business owners in the community was do anything we could to engage with people facing that challenge.”

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The couple was inspired to use a token system based on the success of Vancouver-based restaurateur Mark Brand.

Customers have the option of purchasing a token, which they can then take and give to a person of their choosing, or leave behind for someone in need.

“There’s no judgment, there are no questions asked,” said Brook.

“Some people might not appear to be in need, but we don’t know their full story and unless they’re choosing to share their story with us, they don’t need to identify themselves. They can just avail  the tokens that are left behind,” said Brook.

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Since launching the program earlier this week, the duo said they’ve already received an outpouring of positive feedback. They hope to grow the program and inspire other entrepreneurs to do the same.

“For us, it’s just trying to give back to the community that supports us,” said co-owner Brian Brook.

“Our customers can come in off the street, it doesn’t matter. Our door is always open to anyone and everyone.”

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They said they’re partnering with organizations such as Mainline, Shelter Nova Scotia and The Salvation Army to get the word out and ensure the tokens get into the hands of those in need.