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Troy Soul Cafe community meal program expanding to Albany

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The Soul Cafe today made it official. Its expanded community meal progam that has been in operation across the Hudson River in Troy will debut in Albany from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, 262 State Street. It will be a "Cuban Night" with guest chef Chris Faraci of Carmen's Café in Troy. Denison Farm, Honest Weight Food Co-Op, Placid Baker, and other local businesses donate culled produce for the cooks to prepare.

The Oakwood Community Center in Troy, home of the Soul Cafe and its series of monthly meals prepared and served by local restaurant professionals as well as volunteers, asks only for a $3 donation from diners. However, because of the nature of the program, no one is turned away for lack of money.

The program recently was the recipient of donated kitchen equipment. Sara Fish, the Troy chef who with partner Josh Sheehan is in the process of developing Café Congress in Troy, donated kitchen equipment from her former Hungry Fish Cafe & Country Store operation to the center. She closed the Hungry Fish in May to be able to devote full time to the renovation project that will result in her new restaurant at 336 Congress Street in downtown Troy. Meanwhile, she also is serving as head chef at Buckley Farms, the sustainable farming complex in Valley Falls, Rensselaer County.

Says Sarah, "I happily donated my ... equipment to Linda O'Malley and the gang ...so they can create their communal kitchen and make the world a better place. Thanks for letting me help!" O'Malley, director of the center, said "That's what community-building does."

The Oakwood Community Center is located at Hoosick Street and Tenth Avenue, just north of the Collar City Bridge. It offers various themed food events throughout the year and its Soul Food Cafe serves food the second Monday of each month, offering a varied menu on a pay-what-you-can basis. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer cook for the program -- or now for the Albany satellite program -- can get details by calling (518) 273-5199.

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