Looking for a quick, affordable and delicious lunch? You’re wasting your time in the Chick-Fil-A drive thru. Skip the mediocre Showmars you can walk to from your office. Just say no to Jimmy John’s delivery.

Hop in your car and drive down Monroe Road to Greylyn Business Park (about 15 minutes from Uptown and totally doable for a lunch break). Yes, I want you to go eat lunch in a nondescript office park in East Charlotte. There you’ll find one of the best and most affordable lunch options in the Queen City.

Community Culinary School of Charlotte is a local nonprofit providing workforce, culinary and life skills training, work experience, counseling, support and job placement for adults facing barriers to long-term employment (things like homelessness, addiction and incarceration).

Since 1997, 57 classes of students have participated in a 14-week training program in the culinary arts at no cost to them.

CCSC is more than a non-profit culinary school. They have a full service catering company. And they have a chef-inspired community café serving breakfast and lunch weekdays to the public.

The Café’s lunch entrees are all eight dollars.

Your eight dollars is better spent at The Café at CCSC than on room temperature drive thru food. The cozy, counter service café’s menu changes daily and features a wide range of elevated offerings all made with fresh ingredients in house by CCSC students. Entrees rival some of the best restaurants in town, at about a quarter of the cost: Chicken and dumplings. House made ravioli in a light cream sauce. Osso Buco style braised chicken. Quiche Lorraine. Cider Glazed Pork Loin. Thai Noodle Salad. Baja fish tacos. Chicken stroganoff.

And if house-made pasta or warm comforting entrees aren’t your thing, CCSC’s café has a line up of classic sandwiches: Club wrap, pimento cheese BLT, chicken salad, black bean burger, Croque Madam, and an All American burger.

All sandwiches come with fries or a side salad.

Your eight dollars gets you good lunch and a good price, and helps you do good in the process. Revenue from The Café’s breakfast and lunch service go right back to CCSC and their students. When you buy a meal, you support CCSC’s mission.

CCSC’s café is open 8 AM to 2 PM, Monday through Friday. Breakfast is served 8 AM to 11 AM and lunch is served 10:30 AM to 2 PM. They also have a bakery case and grab-and-go options. I am supporting SHARE Charlotte’s #GivingTuesdayCLT campaign and trying to raise $400 for Community Culinary School of Charlotte. Click here to learn more or support the campaign. Photography via Courtesy of Nathan Villaume, My Camera Charlotte.