Contact the People's Potato

Contact us: 514-848-2424 x7590 email:

Address: 1455 de Maisonneuve west, H-733, Montreal, Quebec H3G 1M8

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Abolitionist interview

Interview by Claudette Vaughan

Nathan, one of our staff members, did an interview with The Abolitionist a little while ago.

CV: The Co-op was formed in 1999 after several students felt there was a need to address the issue of student poverty and hunger on campus. All these years later, has that been achieved?

NC: I would say that this has been achieved to a degree. The People's Potato gives over 200 people meals daily during the fall and winter semesters, and we provide a food bank twice a week during the exam time that follows these semesters. I know that those who accept our service really do value what we provide.

However, there are two campuses and over 30,000 students at Concordia University . Those who usually aren't at the Downtown campus (where we serve) don't have another option for an affordable, healthy meal. There have been talks of people setting up a similar service in the suburban campus, but nothing has been established as of yet. So, I guess it's hard to say... I see people eating everyday and I know that they are satisfied, but there are so many other students at the University, so I really have to wonder sometimes.

CV:The kitchen is structured so there's no hierarchy. Who decides what to cook, weekly menus, what's cheap veg at the time etc?

NC: We have weekly meetings and make decisions regarding expenses, kitchen use, etc when they need to be brought to the attention of the Collective. We keep track of our expenses and try to make decisions regarding market runs accordingly. As far as the actual cooking goes, it is usually a bit more improvised. What is cooked depends on what food is available from the food bank distributors, whom we collect much of our food from. There are some general guidelines; we have to prepare a soup, a salad, a stew, and a grain to be sure that the meal is nutritious. There are two "chefs" for each kitchen shift, and they decide on what they will prepare for the soup and stew. We prepare a grain according to what is in the stew, or we'll just make whatever we have enough time to prepare before serving. We tend to let volunteers take care of the salad. The chefs will let them know what we have, and maybe give them some ideas, and we let them go from there. Sometimes the food supply is low, but we usually figure something out!

CV: Do students enjoy eating healthy nutritious vegan food?

NC: Yes, I think they do! In the fall, students were given the opportunity to vote to continue having a fraction of student money go to the People's Potato, and an overwhelming amount voted "yes." Not all students are vegan, of course, and many who voted may not even come to the Potato for lunch, but it's certain that many find the Potato to be a valuable resource!

read the rest here