Eating off the Meal Plan: a Series on Where Else We Eat (Greenfire)

Greenfire is a Lawrence University cooperative, group house and club that strives to eat local, organic and fair trade food. As a community, their mission is to promote food awareness in an environment filled with people who share the same ideals.

Greenfire is one of the larger cooperatives on campus with 18 people on the meal plan but cooking for around 40 students at open meals. Open meals are on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m., where students are welcome to join the residents and share dinner together.

Steve Keune is a local farmer who provides fresh and seasonal produce to Greenfire as well as the Sustainable Lawrence University Garden (SLUG) and the McCarthy Co-op. Some of his most popular items at Greenfire are eggs, cheese, lentils, blueberries and unpasteurized cheese curds.

Trust Local Foods (TLF) on College Avenue is the other main provider for Greenfire’s cooperative. During a normal week, the main groceries from TLF are yogurt, cheese, dried cherries and whatever produce is seasonally appropriate. The foods bought in bulk tend to be essential cooking and baking ingredients, including sugar, flour, oil and oats.

Similarly to the McCarthy Co-Op, Greenfire has a cooking schedule by which each person on the meal plan and living in the house is trusted to uphold the designated responsibilities as part of a cohesive unit. There are meal teams responsible for cooking one dinner every week. Those on the meal plan are provided cooked meals every weeknight, but are accountable for their breakfasts and lunches. These meals come from whatever leftovers are available or any groceries in the house. Greenfire’s meal plan can also provide students with a certain amount of regular meal swipes and culinary cash.

This week, I sat down with junior and Greenfire member Katharine Kollman. When asked how her food consciousness changed by living in the house and on the cooperative, she responded, “My awareness definitely increased [by] being on the co-op at Lawrence, just being in college, and being aware of what you’re eating and not double-fisting waffle fries and pizza.” Kollman said that her awareness of food quality and seasonal appropriateness has grown since coming to Lawrence and she also recognizes the great privilege that Lawrence students have.

After studying in Senegal Spring Term, Kollman provided an enriching perspective on our campus’s attitude towards food. Kollman stated that Senegal is “a different world. The ‘food awareness’ that exists in the United States is something that’s allowed for our first world nation because we have the money and resources to provide that—that doesn’t exist in a lot of African countries.”

Lawrence co-ops are provided with sufficient funds to buy organic and local groceries, which can be pricey. Kollman commented: “everyone likes to complain about the quality of food at Bon Appétit but the fact is that we are provided fresh foods all the time there and we don’t have to choose between a different type of fried food and an expensive salad bar. We’re very lucky to have that.” The several cooperatives on Lawrence’s campus promote a form of food consciousness that many universities lack. As Kollman put it, “It is a huge privilege to be able to be on this co-op and to have the grocery funds and the ability to shop the way we do because it is not inexpensive to shop local and to get good produce in this area. So I feel very grateful because we are able to.” Being grateful for the options that we have is essential for the campus wide food consciousness, along with acknowledging our privilege as a student body.