Food For Thought to open later than expected

The Food for Thought Caf퀌� , originally slated to open Sept. 23, has pushed back the opening date to Oct. 14.

The caf퀌� board members have identified several obstacles that have surfaced to warrant the delay in the opening, including contract delays with the Smith Memorial Student Union.

The main focus of the caf퀌� is to “serve locally grown, organic food with a menu appropriate for students on tight budgets to members of the community willing to spend a few bucks,” according to the caf퀌�’s co-manager Jesse Engum.

The premise for the inception of the caf퀌� emerged in the fall of 2000 with a group of students banding together to promote sustainable food systems at Portland State University.

The brainchild of Alex Welsch, the caf퀌� took shape with its inclusion as a member of the Student Organization Committee in 2001. Over the past year, the board focused on developing goals, structuring objectives and a business plan, and presenting a proposal for further funding from the Student Fee Committee.

An extensive marketing survey of more than 600 faculty members and students was conducted to develop menu ideas, caf퀌� location and design.

“Our menu will consist of seasonal food in healthy combinations. With this in mind, extensive research on food sources, sustainability issues, labor practices of food production, shipping processes and food processing has been included in the conception of the caf퀌�,” Engum said.

The caf퀌� Web site lists several ideas that the group is keen on introducing to students: local and sustainable food; less packaging; more recycling and composting; affordable, good-tasting food; living wages and decent working conditions; and community-based management.

The goals for the project include the creation of a caf퀌� that emphasizes sustainability principles; giving real-world experience to students with educational topics such as research on food sources, production, processing and labor practices; and increasing students’ awareness of food sustainability.

The executive board for the caf퀌� consists of a diverse range of students who bring their talents to a venture that has required extensive research and study.

Nancy Becker teaches nutrition as an adjunct professor in the department of chemistry. April Bertelson, an urban and regional planning graduate student, currently works with the city of Portland as a planner. Cassidy Blackburn, a freshman in the music department, serves on the ASPSU Senate and is the owner-operator of an organic coffee stand near campus. Engum will be graduating with an undergraduate degree in foreign languages and literature and looks forward to majoring in architecture in graduate school.

The caf퀌�’s menu will be finalized with attention paid to seasonal availability and approved sustainability food-production methods.

“I think that it is a great idea. A new hang-out is always welcome on campus,” said Hiroko Shimota, an international studies major.

Max Key, an English major, expressed a similar opinion.

“I think it will be successful since the idea of organic food is preferred by most of Portland.”

The caf퀌�, scheduled to open at the beginning of fall term, had to push the date to Oct. 14 due to unforeseen complications with contract agreements held with the Smith Center Student Union and Smith Center advisory board.

“A lot of things need to be done to open in two weeks, such as the wrapping of hiring decisions, finalizing kitchen layouts and deciding on the fall menu,” Engum said.

For more coverage of the Food For Thought Caf퀌�, see this Friday’s edition of the Vanguard.