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The Banquet Table: Gathering Around Coffee & Local Non-Profits

What does "ethical" mean to you in daily practice?

The Banquet Table wants to make an impact on the local non-profit missions of San Antonio. To sustain a city, local non-profits are necessary. The government isn’t able to meet all of the needs of a city or the individuals living in it. We would love to bring more awareness and civic engagement to the missions that are serving the needs of our city. At the same time, college students, who are very passionate about social justice, can mistakenly engage in social causes in unethical ways, i.e. yelling at one another, posting profanities online, etc. We love to show them how to move social justice forward by serving others (this looks different per individual/local non-profit need).

Tell us about The Banquet Table.

The Banquet Table creates gatherings around coffee & local non-profits at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Each gathering we host around a local non-profit varies depending on the mission of the non-profit we are honoring. Our annual gathering is called The Banquet Table Meal. We host a free, family-style meal for 150 college students during Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week along a banquet table (20 tables long) in the middle of campus. The Banquet Table Meal is also a food drive in honor of the on-campus food pantry, The Roadrunner Pantry. Last year, we collected and donated close to 800lb of food items to the pantry. Other gatherings we have hosted around local non-profits are a thrift store in the middle of campus in honor of Revolution Thrift and an open mic night in honor of Aid the Silent (all performances were ASL interpreted).

The Gathering 5k + Market Day is intended to be our annual fundraiser to help fund The Banquet Table’s mission of creating gatherings around coffee & local non-profits at UTSA. Every gathering we host around coffee + local non-profits is free for college students to attend so that there is no hindrance in student participation. Our hope is to introduce college students to each mission and increase overall civic engagement. The 5k + Market Day is intended to also bless the local missions of San Antonio, by being a free venue for them to spread awareness of their mission (giving each non-profit a free 10’x10’ space for a table/booth in the Market). We also hope to bless small businesses by being an affordable market for them to promote/sell their goods!

What aspects of The Banquet Table's business model connect to ethical spaces?

A sustainable practice of The Banquet Table is being a student organization. This allows The Banquet Table to use the campus as a free venue for hosting our gatherings around coffee + local non-profits, keeping our costs extremely low. Our free gatherings around coffee & local non-profits foster equal access to college students of different backgrounds, ideologies, religions, ethnicities, etc. It is truly a beautiful sight to see many different students come together for a cause!

What have been the biggest challenges in your ethical journey with The Banquet Table? If you have, how do you address these obstacles?

Our biggest obstacle (and strangely also a blessing) is the extreme ideological differences on a college campus. It can seem impossible to gather varying groups together that are passionately (and sometimes unethically) set up against one another (i.e. religious groups, political groups, etc.) It is a sad reality that those differences cause such division and strife on a college campus. At the same time, the diversity of a college campus is a blessing. We have a unique opportunity to bridge different groups together by providing free gatherings around coffee and local non-profits. Each non-profit and gathering attracts people from varying groups and ideologies, bringing them together for a greater cause.

What inspires you to keep going?

Seeing the impact on students' lives and local non-profit missions!!

How do you see the organization growing in its ethical practices? Where would you like to be in the next few years?

I just look forward to telling the story of more and more local missions. I also look forward to creating a culture on UTSA’s campus of serving others!

Tell us your funniest fail as an ethical/sustainable business.

I wasn’t good at allocating jobs when we first began (totally unsustainable). One time, The Banquet Table hosted a banquet fundraiser, and I prepped, cooked the meal for 30 people, decorated, and led/spoke at the gathering! It was not sustainable as a human or as a non-profit mission. We now have a team of Ambassadors that are volunteers who serve, dream up, and put on all our gatherings together around coffee & local non-profits.

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