Photo: jacoblund (iStock)

We’re in tough times right now, and those times are even harder for some people. A new café opening today in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, offers many benevolent and altruistic options, including the chance to “pay it forward” for a future less-fortunate diner.

ABC affiliate KCRG in Cedar Rapids reports that the Matthew 25 nonprofit group opened the new Groundswell Café today, focusing on the popular farm-to-table format. It also “plans to grow a portion of the food served to customers at the café,” possibly as much as 50 percent, coming from the group’s community farm.

To further promote healthy eating at the café and help make it more affordable for all, the restaurant encourages customers who can do so to “overpay” for their meal, “so when someone comes in who can’t afford the price of soup, salad or sandwiches—the amount is already covered by someone who paid it forward.” Customers can do so by rounding up their bill to the nearest dollar, or by making an outright donation. And it sounds like the Iowans are enthusiastic about the altruistic model: “Café operators say so far nearly every customer has left a little extra to help feed someone who couldn’t afford it.” According to the restaurant’s website, those who can’t afford to pay can order their meal and enjoy it at no cost.

There have been previous efforts like this one, like the Panera Bread that told people to just pay what they could afford. (It later closed.) Maybe you yourself have pulled the old “pay it forward” at the Starbucks or someplace similar, giving you a jolt of the positivity that comes along with helping others, even perfect strangers. The Groundswell Café standardizes the practice—hopefully making “pay it forward” a more common mantra.