CoFED partners with young people of color from poor and working-class backgrounds to build food and land co-ops.

The Flaming Eggplant Cafe

The Evergreen State College

Olympia, Washington

This workers’ collective serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Friday. Their mission statement says it all: "As a student-worker collective, the mission of the Flaming Eggplant Café is to nourish the local food system by making delicious, healthy, ecologically and socially just food accessible to all.  We strive to empower the campus and greater Olympia community to organize, study, teach, seed, and create an egalitarian society together beginning with the act of eating."

In 2004, the student group Students Organizing for Food Autonomy (SOFA) campaigned to end corporate food service and transition to a sustainable self-operated food service, collecting over 600 student signatures in support. In Food-Not-Bombs style, they organized weekly potlucks on the campus’ main square consistently for almost 2 years to show support. In 2006, SOFA started organizing for a student-run cafe. A handful of evergreen students completed academic contracts to create a feasibility study, business plan, and budget, and started a student group on campus. The College Activities Building was undergoing renovation and got approval from the students by promising a student-run option. In 2007, letters of support were collected from practically every department. Market surveys of students show 98% support for a student-run food option. The student group applied for funds through their Student Activities board. At the budget hearing, they attracted potentially the largest show of student support for a proposal in its history, but their budget proposal was denied anyways, “due to lack of funds”. Then, the students get enough signatures to take it to a referendum: the student body votes YES to a one time fee of $2 per credit taken. With this referendum passed, they have the budget to order equipment and get approval from the county health department to start a food cart on Red Square, with a prep trailer on lower campus, and a dry storage closet and office space on upper campus. In 2010, the College Activities Building is completed and the Flaming Eggplant moves into its home on the third floor.

Here's 2 great videos--one from the days on Red Square and the other from the more legit days of their awesome industrial kitchen!