Who We Are

We are people who love food and want a just food system. We support great restaurants that treat people and the environment well throughout the food system, and raise our voices on policies that support those practices. We are gathering for quality food and fair wages and working conditions.

With over 20 million workers nationwide, the US food industry is one of the largest and fastest growing sectors of our economy. Within it, the restaurant industry is the largest segment – employing over 10 million workers – but unfortunately is also the lowest-paying employer in America.

We are on the cusp of creating real change for food workers and the food system in America; legislators across America are currently considering proposals to raise the minimum wage and provide paid sick days, and to regulate food companies, forcing them to provide healthier, more environmentally-sustainable food.

All of us- workers, employers, and eaters – have a stake in encouraging a sustainable food system and thriving local economies. By raising the wage and benefits floor, millions of workers across the food chain will have enough to spend on the basics, and boost the economy in the process by circulating more money in local economies.

The Organization

THE WELCOME TABLE is a national association of people who care about the food they eat and the people who have touched it, and want to be part of making a better food system for all.

Join Now to learn more, support a sustainable food system, and take action.

About This Website

THE WELCOME TABLE is also the web portal for a multi-media campaign that includes two books, a series of short films, a photography exhibit, a full-length fiction feature film, and other media that reflect a collaboration between the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Louverture Films, Dillywood, Inc., the Applied Research Center, New Arts Axis, Food Chain Worker’s Alliance, and Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. The Welcome Table illustrates an interconnected story that reveals the people behind the kitchen doors in restaurants and throughout the food chain across America, and how their lives impact our eating experience. Through multi-layered storytelling, we reframe our relationship to those who touch our food, who live under the radar and the poverty line. We invite you to explore the spaces of this website, meet the people, find out about the daily challenges they face and hear the untold stories of resilience. How many food service workers rely on food stamps? How many work sick because they don’t have paid sick days? The Welcome Table project is an invitation to look deeper and awaken to our interdependence. Learning these stories will change our eating experience.

Things To See and Do

  1. Explore
    • Explore Behind the Kitchen Door, by Saru Jayaraman (foreward by Eric Schlosser). If you like what you read, you can BUY THE BOOK to learn what’s happening Behind the Kitchen Door!
    • Watch a series of short film portraits based on the workers profiled in the book (will be released on the site on 2/13)
    • Experience an online photography exhibit
    • Investigate the startling data from the field
    • Join us and take action on the issues
    • Read the blog and share your thoughts with the Welcome Table community.

    Coming Soon:

    • A full-length fiction feature film based on The Accidental American, a book by Rinku Sen with Fekkak Mamdouh
    • An installation for public spaces featuring large-scale photography, video and live data
  2. Support a Sustainable Food System
    • Join an “Eat-up” – dining events to create community among like-minded eaters and workers. Learn more about eat-ups near you
    • A National Diners’ Guide and smartphone app – providing information on the wages and working conditions of popular restaurants in America – download the Guide and the app now at www.rocunited.org/dinersguide! You can also check out an instructional video showing how to speak up when you eat out, and get tip cards and sample tweets to let restaurant employers know our values and demonstrate how we can vote with our forks!
    • Become a Member in community-owned cooperative food enterprises. Learn more!
  3. Take Action Today

    The Welcome Table provides opportunities for members to communicate directly to legislators on everything from the minimum wage for restaurant workers of $2.13 to GMO labeling on food.

    JOIN THE WELCOME TABLE in asking Congress to raise the minimum wage for food workers – those who receive tips and those who don’t!

Questions about the site? Please email: Hnin@rocunited.org