Concordia Food Coalition Wants to Bite You

Bite Me! Food Workshop Series Begins at Concordia

The Concordia Food Coalition’s week of workshops and events about food politics—dubbed Bite Me!—kicked off on Monday with a tour of the People’s Potato.

A student group that wants there to be more sustainable and student-run food options on campus, the CFC is currently involved in discussions with Concordia about on-campus food services. The university’s contract with food service provider Chartwells ends in May 2015.

The People’s Potato is one of the student-run food initiatives on campus. It’s a collectively run soup kitchen that offers vegan meals to students and members of the wider community for free—with optional donations—every weekday on the seventh floor of the Hall Building.

Lorraine Donald, a Concordia student and member of the People’s Potato collective, said the food outlet’s status at the university still hasn’t been resolved.

Originally, the People’s Potato cooked its food off-campus and then brought the food to the university, serving it in the basement of campus bar Reggie’s. When a food service provider vacated a kitchen on the seventh floor of the Hall Building sometime in the 2005-2006 school year, the People’s Potato moved in, said another member of the collective, Jamiey Kelly.

The People’s Potato doesn’t have a contract with the university, and Concordia’s administration doesn’t officially recognize the collective’s right to occupy the space, Kelly said. One of the problems that uncertain status creates, he added, is that the People’s Potato can’t take out insurance against possible damages caused by a fire or flooding.

“It looks like we’ll maybe have to take more of a stance, and put ourselves out there, and say [to the administration], “Hey, we’ve been here [for almost] 15 years now. Please acknowledge us,’” Donald said.

The soup kitchen is operated as a “safe space,” Kelly said, meaning volunteers are strictly prohibited from uttering racist jokes or homophobic slurs in the kitchen, since the collective aims to be welcoming to all types of people.

Bite Me! events continue all week. On Tuesday, a workshop will discuss the many organizations in Montreal that provide access to nutritious and affordable food. On Wednesday, a presentation and public discussion will look at the history of Montreal’s public markets.