Cooperative meal plan extended to formal houses on campus

Bridget Donnelly

The cooperative meal plan system, previously an option only available for the members of the McCarthy Cooperative House and fraternity houses, was extended for the 2010-2011 school year to the Sustainable Lawrence University Gardens and Greenfire Houses.
The co-op meal plan allocates funds from student meal plan costs to the organizations’ budgets in order to allow students to regularly prepare their own meals, fostering sustainable as well as community-building alternatives to the campus dining system.
Members of both Greenfire and SLUG worked with Associate Dean of Students for Campus Life Amy Uecke, Campus Center Director Gregory Griffin, Lawrence faculty and the organizations currently employing formal group house meal plans last spring to figure out the financial and logistical practicality of establishing a cooperative system for the organizations’ houses.
In previous years, students on cooperative meal plans paid a lower fee than that charged to the rest of the student body, making it difficult for additional groups to adopt cooperative meal plans. However, the change in dining service management during the 2009-2010 school year required all students to pay the same fee. This change allowed Greenfire and SLUG houses to pursue cooperative meal plans.
SLUG member Oren Jakobson ’11 explained the two major questions that the groups had to address during these negotiations: “Whether adding new groups would significantly impact Bon Appétit’s projections, and. whether rewriting the rules would somehow adversely affect existing formal group meal plans.”
Ultimately, it was decided that the number of students on cooperative meal plans was not significant enough to negatively affect Bon Appétit, and the rules were revised with the interests of all groups on such plans in mind.
Students on the formal group meal plans pay the same overall meal plan charge as the rest of the student body, allocating a certain amount to the house budget, and the remainder as meals or Culinary Cash through Bon Appétit.
Heather Huebner ’11, residence life manager of Greenfire House, described the cooperative meal plan as an extension of efforts taken by Greenfire and SLUG over the past few years to establish community-based meals.
“We, the Greenfire House,” said Huebner, “have had smaller non-Lawrence affiliated co-op dinner set-ups for the past two years. We have really enjoyed these meals together and we wanted to make it a larger-scale project, within the house and the Lawrence community.”
With an established meal plan this year, SLUG and Greenfire houses are able to maintain a regular schedule for cooking meals together, which has been, according to Huebner, “an amazing opportunity to integrate Greenfire members and members of the student body in a sustainable – and nutritious – way.”
Collaboration between the groups has been an essential part of the cooperative system, as Huebner pointed out that many of their ingredients come from SLUG. This cooperation has also extended into the greater Appleton community. SLUG member Laura Streyle ’11 noted that many of the foods not produced in the Lawrence gardens are purchased locally.
One of the major suppliers of ingredients for both SLUG and Greenfire, explains Streyle, is Bob Wall, head chef at Downer Commons prior to last year’s transition to Bon Appétit.
In August, Wall opened The Green Gecko, a grocery store selling local and organic produce, located in the Appleton City Center. Additionally, Wall buys produce from local farmer Steve Kuene’s farm stand at the Farmer’s Market on weekends. SLUG and Greenfire regularly buy produce from Kuene’s stand.
Both Greenfire and SLUG Houses plan to host more cooperative events throughout the year to foster involvement in the traditions of sustainability and community that their organizations strive to promote.