Tampa, Florida -- A downtown Tampa café celebrated its first birthday Monday by providing more than 80,000 meals for people in need.

It's a simple concept developed by Metropolitan Ministries executive chef Cliff Barsi -- a meal for you, a meal for them. For every lunch you buy, you are feeding one needy person in the community, that combined with gourmet lunches, has made Metropolitan Ministries' Inside the Box Café a huge success

"The key is it has raised awareness in the downtown area of the people that are hungry," said Morris Hintzman, CEO of Metropolitan Ministries.

The Children's Board of Hillsborough County planted the seed with a $25,000 grant and the cafe's food and impact have surpassed expectations.

Chanae Jacobs, who was once homeless, said the culinary training and jobs program saved her and her son's life.

"Immediately when I walked in there they were helpful. They talked to me about my situation, they said this is a program that can help better yourself and become more self-sufficient. I didn't realize how much of an impact it created on my life."

Metropolitan Ministries CEOMorris Hintzman, former Mayor Pam Iorio and Tampa Bay Lightning's Thunderbug all gathered around today to wish Inside the Box Café a Happy 1stBirthday.

"We can't stop smiling. It's our birthday today, it's our anniversary," said Chanae Jacobs.

Follow 10 News Reporter Lorena Rabago on twitter @LorenaVRabago

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