In Brewton, Alabama, Drexell & Honeybee’s is working to make itself a source of free food and community.
In 2018, Lisa and Freddie Thomas-McMillan founded Drexell & Honeybee’s as part of their nonprofit food bank Carlisa, Inc. They wanted to establish a space in Brewton, a city with a 26.1 percent poverty rate, that was welcoming to all. “We wanted to create a place where anyone could come in and enjoy a meal,” Lisa tells Food Tank.
Tuesday through Thursday, the restaurant serves three meals a day. All meals include one meat, three vegetables, a salad, dessert, and a beverage. The restaurant has no suggested prices or a cash register. This is to ensure that customers do not feel discouraged if they cannot pay anything.
“A lot of people will go hungry before they enter a restaurant with a quarter and face a cashier,” Lisa tells Food Tank. “We don’t ask for any money from anyone and we don’t know who donates or not.”
Drexell & Honeybee’s operates on the Thomas-McMillans’ Social Security and military retirement funds. Donations of dry goods, fresh produce, and money from the community also help them carry out their work.
Although their indoor dining room closed in response to COVID-19 in March, Drexell & Honeybee’s found other ways to support their community, delivering hot meals to the elderly and sick.
In June, Drexell & Honeybee’s tried to reopen, but a shortage of volunteers and adequate funds forced them to close again. But thanks to a community donation of plexiglass, Drexell & Honeybee’s installed a safety barrier and safely reopened the restaurant on July 28.
According to Feeding America, the food insecurity rate in Alabama is expected to increase due to COVID-19. And with the local community college open for the fall semester, Lisa expects to see even more food insecure students.
The city of Brewton was also affected by Hurricane Sally on September 16. This Category 2 hurricane brought 100 miles per hour winds and as much as 30 inches of rain across Alabama. Due to flooding, Drexell & Honeybee’s closed again until further notice.
In the face of these changes, Lisa says that she and her husband are committed to meeting the needs of Brewton residents in any way they can.
Photo courtesy of Drexell & Honeybee’s