L ily Bradburn ‘13 and Jennifer McKanna ’14 completed the capstone course Delicate Balance while helping to expand the on-campus coffee house. They wanted to transition the Coffee House toward restaurant status, especially since the local food movement is so strong in Vermont at the moment.
Working in conjunction with Dave and Cindy Ondria of Chartwells, Ryan Ihrke (Director of Student Involvement), Matthew Mayberry (Faculty Advisor), and the entire staff of The Coffee House, Bradburn and McKanna were able to reinvigorate the menu to include more local, organic, and fair- trade items.
Surprisingly, these were changes that the people from the college administration had wanted to see happen for a very long time, just without time to do it. Using their writing and editing skills, Bradburn and McKanna drafted a ten-page Student Campus Greening Fund (SCGF) rolling grant, which outlined the details of their project and requested roughly $1,000 to help The Coffee House in this time of transition.
A smaller one-time grant better supported the self- sufficiency of The Coffee House.
Bradburn explained, “If we didn’t get the money for it, then it wasn’t going to happen.”
The SCGF is so underutilized and the project was so well-planned, that the grant was approved unanimously and they were able to start their food justice project.
In regards to eliminating the competition of other late- night food providers in town like Stewart’s or the Buttery, McKanna stated, “The Coffee House is a hub of the campus community, but the original menu was not reflecting the values of the community.”
The menu changes include 100% local grilled cheese sandwich featuring Cabot Sharp cheddar cheese and butter, local milkshakes using Thomas Dairy milk and Wilcox Creamery ice cream, vegan soy milk hot chocolate from Lake Champlain Chocolates, veggie basil soup from Two Guys in Vermont, and Deep River Snacks.
The employees previously purchased most of their goods from Shaw’s with very few items bought from the Stone Valley Community Market in Poultney, but with these new changes, they are able to order directly from the market, working with Chartwells to add on their separate order.
“The Coffee House will be simultaneously fostering intra-campus relationships and reducing travel costs and carbon emissions,” said Bradburn.
In order to ensure that the employees could cook and distribute local food out of the basement of Moses Hall, The Coffee House needed to be inspected according to Food and Safety Guidelines by Bob Manfredi, the Addison County Health Inspector, and receive a kitchen certification from Vermont Health, which permits them to prepare fresh food.
They are also now allowed to sell food prepared in other buildings, including dorm hubs. For example, if a club wished to make a dish and promote it as a Special Item, then they can currently work with The Coffee House for fundraising efforts, as long as the item does not go on the permanent menu.
McKanna described the attempt to close the gap between food production and consumption.
“It is not enough to say that this is where the food comes from; customers should investigate further for their own benefits. It is just too easy to eat without thinking. If you see something that you think needs change, and you are able to get involved, then go for it. I will take more initiative in the future because of this success.”