Lunchtime at The National

Owned and operated by Peter Dale, Hugh Acheson and Chris Luken, The National is Athens’s own European-style fine cafe.

Regarded and respected for its high-quality Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, the restaurant has gained a reputation as one of the best in town.

While having the atmosphere of a fine restaurant abroad, The National prides itself on its support of local farms and its engagement within the Athens community.

Many students consider The National as a place strictly for special occasions or parental visits, but the staff there was kind enough to let me explore during lunchtime, and many students may find that they are surprised by the availability in their wallets for a midday cafe visit.

Athens Land Trust will be hosting its annual Cultivating Community Dinner on Sunday, Feb. 25 in a continuation to ensure that healthy, locally grown produce is accessible for all members of the Athens community.

ALT, an organization founded to empower, conserve and sustain communities, will be hosting its fourth annual Cultivating Community Dinner from 6 - 9 p.m. at The National in downtown Athens. The event will include multi-course fine dining experience prepared by Chef Peter Dale and ALT’s Young Urban Farmers.

ALT actively operates a land conservation program, a housing program and added a community agriculture program to their organization in 2010 to promote land as a community resource.

This Community Agriculture branch of ALT offers economic opportunities to local farmers and underserved individuals while working to develop a sustainable local food system in food insecure communities around Athens.

ALT’s efforts have led to the creation of a community garden network and the operation of two urban gardens and a farmers market. The organization also actively provides farmer support and educates the under-served youth on sustainability and business education.

As one of ALT’s many community events, the goal of the Cultivating Community Dinner is to fundraise for the Double Dollars program at the West Broad Farmers Market.

Through the Double Dollars program, the West Broad Farmers Market teams up with Wholesome Wave Georgia in order to help community members who utilize Georgia’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

SNAP, previously known as food stamps, is a federally funded program that provides monthly benefits to low-income households in order to make healthy food items, like fruits and vegetables, more accessible and affordable.

Because of SNAP, low-income households are able to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. SNAP is the nation’s largest nutrition assistance program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture, according to ALT.

From the money raised through the Cultivating Community Dinner, the West Broad Farmers Market will be able to match each dollar spent by residents using SNAP as a form of payment.

Not only does the Double Dollars program aid residents who use SNAP, but it also facilitates the local food economy by turning one nutrition benefit dollar into two dollars for local farmers. ALT has been running the Double Dollars program since 2013 and plans for another successful year.

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