At the FARM Café in Boone, North Carolina, diners can pay $10 for meal—or they can pay nothing. The restaurant, one of dozens of its kind, follows a pay-what-you-can model. Guests can dine regardless of their finances. It’s an attempt to address food insecurity.

While some have dismissed these restaurants as limited-scale, feel-good attempts to address serious hunger issues, the cafés do foster a sense of community.

Music for this episode is from Blue Dot Sessions: “Building the Sled” from Resolute, “Capering” by Calumet, “Chicken Steak” by Truck Stop, “Marquetry” by Little Rock, and “Min” by Sketchbook 2. 

Irina Zhorov is a writer, photographer, and producer. Her work has appeared on NPR, Planet Money, and 99 Percent Invisible. She’s a Philly girl living on an old horse farm in North Carolina and working on a novel set in Siberia.