Anita Carvill, manager of Manna Haven, in Byron Bay Seventh Day Adventist Church.
Anita Carvill, manager of Manna Haven, in Byron Bay Seventh Day Adventist Church. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Cafe in a Christian manna

A VEGETARIAN cafe that aspires to be manna from heaven to Byron Bay has opened its doors.

Manna Haven cafe, a Seventh Day Adventist Church project trading in a purpose-built extension off its Jonson St worship centre plans to donate all profits to local and international charities.

The entire project, from the labour on the $250,000 building down to the chairs, crockery and cutlery, have been donated by church and community members.

Because it's on church premises, the cafe is not subject to the town's hefty rents and enjoys a lot of volunteer labour from church members and outsiders.

Manager Anita Carvill said it would help them keep prices reasonable while at the same time contributing money to good causes.

"The whole idea here is just to serve and give back to the community," the 29-year-old said.

"It's easy to talk about, and have all the right cliches about God's love, but where the rubber meets the road is how you serve people."

Anita got the inspiration for the charity cafe three years ago when the church would stage weekly charity dinners for up to 300 people.

It started out as a healthy vegetarian meal for people down on their luck, but in the end a wide cross-section of the community joined in giving a donation to enjoy the food and communal atmosphere.

She admitted it had been a hard road getting the cafe up and running on a shoestring budget, but she couldn't let the dream die.

"I've had a fire in my belly. I feel like it's a bit of a calling," the Goonellabah resident said.

Anita, a pastor's daughter, is passionate about churches getting more involved in the community and becoming more relevant because "they're a bit dusty".

Manna Cafe serves lunch between 10am-4pm, and long term there are plans to open for breakfast and dinner.

The cafe uses organic, seasonal and locally sourced produce where possible.



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