Healthy World Cafe in York allows customers to work in exchange for their meal

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A new restaurant in York has an interesting policy when it comes to how customers can pay, without opening their wallets.

At Healthy World Cafe, you can get local, fresh lunch options, from chicken salad over a bed of lettuce, to roasted carrot hummus with feta. The best part is, you don’t have to dish out any dough.

"We have suggested prices, but patrons are welcome to come in and volunteer for an hour in exchange for their meal as well. It's a little bit of a unique model for the York area," said Sarah Chain, Board Chair of Healthy World Cafe.

The non-profit restaurant, located on South George Street, is run by volunteers. It's a pay-how-you-can cafe, which is gaining popularity nationwide. Jobs are non-food related, like clearing tables.

"This idea that folks coming in and the ability to eat a good healthy meal is given priority over their ability to pay," said Chain.

If you can afford to pay, you can also pay it forward, or volunteer to help. "We rely on community support as a nonprofit, so we are looking to diners who are able or are interested to pay it forward," said Chain.

The goal is to build a sustainable community by providing nourishing food to everyone. Everything is made from scratch, and comes from local farms and sources. "We actually have a community recognition board up on the wall of the cafe that lists 'your food today is sourced from' and lists some of the farms that we have been fortunate to work with," said Chain.

"The idea of people paying what they can, or working for what they can't, and the idea of paying it forward I just think is a great way to help feed people," said Dru Peters, who is a local farmer and checked out the new restaurant Monday at the grand-opening. "They do very creative menus and they do food around just what's available and in season right now, so that always makes a farmer happy," laughed Peters.

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