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World Garden Pays It Forward

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Bentonville restaurant provides tickets for free bread, soup every day

By Lana Flowers

BENTONVILLE — Rick Boosey is a man on a mission to end hunger. His World Garden restaurant in Bentonville cooks extra sliders, soup and bread, specifically to donate to nonprofit agencies and families in need.

The latest project of Boosey’s World Garden Foundation is Pay It Forward, which began in May.

“We got about a 20-gallon soup kettle. One 20-gallon batch is about 250 bowls of soup,” Boosey said.

The restaurant has two such kettles to produce a total of 40 gallons of soup at a time or about 3,000 meals per week.

Each World Garden customer who buys a meal gets a pay it forward card. The customer can hand the card to anyone  — an unemployed single mom, the elderly neighbor who needs a hot meal and some company or the college student who spent her last $50 on a needed textbook.

The pay it forward ticket is good for a free bowl of soup and piece of bread from 2 to 5 p.m. every Monday through Saturday at the World Garden restaurant in the Metro Market shopping center at 2905 S. Walton Blvd. Suite 29 in Bentonville.

Boosey was born in Little Rock and worked at Microsoft before returning to Northwest Arkansas a few years ago. He and his wife, Cindy, opened World Garden in 2008, and the restaurant has an annual revenue of about $1 million.

So why does a successful restaurant give away food?

“There would be an inch and a half of soup left in the bottom of the pot at the end of the day. It was not enough to save for the next day, but it was too much to throw away,” Boosey said.

He, his staff and volunteers began taking the leftover soup and other items, such as the little hamburgers called sliders, to organizations such as the Seven Hills Homeless Center and the Salvation Army in Fayetteville, the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter in Rogers and neighbors or families they knew were struggling financially.

“Donations are a big part of our operations. Otherwise, we have to go out and buy the food,” said Brian Birks, business administrator for the Salvation Army in Fayetteville.

“The Lord has given me this vision of serving every day. I want us to end hunger in Arkansas,” Boosey said. “I want to find people who are hungry in Northwest Arkansas. I don’t want to leave anybody behind.”

Sleuths & Sliders

Eat some of World Garden’s famous sliders and see a mystery theater production.

The Village Players present Mystery Dinner Theater, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 21, at World Garden, 2905 S. Walton Blvd., in the Metro Market shopping center in Bentonville.

Seating is limited. Call 479-876-1481 for tickets.

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