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Even after theft, nonprofit eatery’s doors swing wide open for holiday

One World Spokane serves fresh, organic meals for whatever price clients think fair

One World Spokane will offer a Thanksgiving dinner from 2 to 5 p.m. today, nourishing Spokane’s underprivileged as it has for the past year.

The nonprofit restaurant in the East Central neighborhood provides fresh, organic food to people who typically don’t have access to that fare. Instead of a menu with set prices, patrons pay what they can.

As many as 20 people a day eat there free, either because they volunteer their time or because they can’t afford to pay.

One World gets by on a shoestring budget, making what happened there earlier this month all the more troubling.

During a busy weekend, someone went into an upstairs office of the building at 1804 E. Sprague Ave. and took $1,200 in cash – about a month’s worth of gross receipts and money the restaurant could hardly afford to lose.

The theft won’t deter One World from its mission, however.

“It’s not a natural thing to start accusing people,” chef Virlinda Severance said.

She said she’s resisting the urge to look at the people around her with suspicion.

“There are a lot of people who are good, honest citizens who come here to help out,” she said.

The loss was discovered early Nov. 16. Police were called, but the officer who took the report said the case is not likely to be solved. The money was not locked up, Severance said – a practice that will change. One World Spokane opened in 2008 with the idea of offering organic food in a café set up like a community kitchen. The cooking is done adjacent to the tables, and patrons order what they like, including the size of portions. They then contribute a donation they think is fair.

Donations typically run from $5 to $15.

The restaurant offers a free daily special for people who can’t afford to pay, and volunteers at the restaurant eat for free. Tuesday’s lunch menu included bulgur wheat and split peas for its free entrée, along with a kale and tofu stir-fry or trout in white wine sauce.

Severance said she wants the public to know about the restaurant and to consider dropping by for a meal or making a donation to help the eatery overcome the loss.

“It’s really sad,” she said, “that somebody would be so inconsiderate of an organization that is trying to help people.”

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