News  Green changes coming to Caferama space

Caferama’s days of dishing out paninis and salads in styrofoam are numbered, and students are gearing up to replace the Shatner building’s first-floor cafeteria – whose lease expires on August 31 – with a more sustainable food source.

Derina Man, SSMU’s Environment Commissioner, held a meeting Friday with SSMU executive members and other students to shape guidelines regarding prices, menu options, and sustainability that SSMU will present to parties who submit proposals for the space. The deadline is February 1 and SSMU Council will decide on a new food vendor in March.

Man said she was pleased with the students’ input from the meeting and hoped to incorporate their suggestions – including more organic and local foods – into the contract with the future vendor.

“The students suggested vegan and vegetarian options; they asked ‘why can’t you find soymilk on campus?’” Man said, adding, “There was also a lot of interest in plates and minimizing waste.”

Tenants like Tiki-Ming in Shatner’s second-floor cafeteria offer a 10-cent discount to students who bring own their own plates or use one supplied by the Plate Club.

Although waste reduction efforts haven’t yet reached the first floor due to the Plate Club’s limited resources, Man explained that SSMU is committed to coordinating efforts with the Club to make plates available there.

Like many food vendors on campus, Caferama serves food in styrofoam containers and customers add sugar from individual containers to their single-use coffee cups, generating a considerable amount of garbage.

Man hoped the negotiation process between SSMU and prospective vendors would ensure that the third floor’s increasingly environmentally friendly practices trickle down to the Caferama space.

“We want to maintain an environmental standpoint during the negotiation process,” Man said.

“In the development of a new business, we want to see sustainability stay on the forefront.”

Imad Barake, SSMU VP Finance & Operations, explained that the Society has already received one proposal from a group of students interested in giving the space an environmental facelift.

“The students who approached us about a student-run café proposed an environmentally-friendly concept using fair-trade coffee and local food,” Barake said.

Barake was enthusiastic about the employment and managerial opportunities a student-run café could offer to the student body, and urged any student groups interested in renting the space to email him.

Yet the McGill administration has admitted that the decision to shut down and then assume financial control over the Architecture Café – formerly the only student-run café on campus – was in line with the University’s plan to centralize food services on campus.