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Food for Thought to launch next fall

Next fall, students will have a new hangout and eatery. ASPSU allocated $1,000 to start Food for Thought before the SFC allocations arrive in July.

The student-run Food for Thought group was awarded with student fee funding for the 2002-2003 academic school year and will begin operation in the fall.

A permanent location hasn’t been determined and Food for Thought is awaiting a decision about their preferred space in the Smith Center basement where the Multi-Cultural Center used to be.

Food for Thought will serve coffee shop fare, vegetarian friendly, healthy food options and provide a common area for students and other patrons. The cafe will feature art installations and performances.

They hope to use local ingredients when possible and support fair trade sources and farms that practice sustainable agricultural.

Jocelyn Furbush of Students for Unity said, “It’s the idea of having a caf퀌� combining justice and health issues and the idea of having more student space on campus where people could come together.”

Furbush and other volunteers began the initial planning of Food for Thought when she became involved with a national campaign to get college campuses and corporations like Starbucks to carry fair trade coffee, a practice that can help coffee plantation workers.

Janet Hammer, a Ph.D. student in community development focusing on sustainability and food development in the urban studies department has been very active in planning Food for Thought. She agreed with Furbush and said that people “came to the table for different reasons.”

Some wanted a new student space to hang out, one with a “coffee house feeling,” that had local art and music, while others wanted an alternative food source providing healthy options and food from environmentally and socially responsible sources.

“We had some farm workers speak at PSU, and when you have that direct contact with people who are growing your food and that are under devastating conditions, you see that that’s what you are supporting with the money you’re spending … PSU, as an urban university … and us as students should look at where our money is going and what kind of practices we are supporting with our money,” Furbush said.

Food for Thought organizers researched schools around the country and polled over 600 PSU students about their food habits and preferences. They did market research with the S.E. Portland caf퀌� Laughing Planet and the nearby Western Culinary Institute.

Hammer said that the program would provide a “service learning experience, where business, science, art, music and other students can gain experience.”

They hope to provide a work outlet for people who need training and for those who want to attend college. Students will make up the majority of the workforce and the Western Culinary Institute, whose students need practical experience as part of their education, will also assist.

Food for Thought hopes to operate out of the Smith Center basement where the Multi-Cultural Center used to reside. They want this location because it is centrally located in the student union and it has a fully operational commercial kitchen that isn’t being regularly used. It is currently only used for special events. This occasional use will still take place if the space is allocated to Food for Thought.

A potential obstacle to operating in that space is that the Aramark Corporation currently has an exclusive contract to provide food service in Smith Center.

Hammer said that they still aren’t sure, but chances of getting the basement space are “favorable.” Student and community support for the project has been growing steadily since its conception in 2000. “There has been a lot of student and community support, lots of letters,” Hammer said.

Depending on space allocation, Food for Thought will likely begin operating during lunch hours and expand to late night and weekend hours next Fall.

Hammer said that if things go smoothly they plan on being “in the black” or supporting themselves without debt by the second year of operation. Student fees will provide initial startup and operational funding. The Student Fee Committee has approved a tentative amount of funds for the next budget year.

Student fee funds come from the fee all students pay as a part of their tuition. The money goes to a diverse array of student groups like ASPSU student government, outdoor clubs, theater arts groups and student publications.

To further assist in preparation, Food for Thought volunteers will attend the Farm to College Conference, a program sponsored by the Community Food Security Alliance in Olympia. Aramark will also send a representative. Conference activities will discuss how to get local food into school cafeterias. Students, farmers and school administrators from varied locations will all attend.

More information on Food for Thought, including how to get involved, can be found by calling Students for Unity at 503-725-8777.