Accessibility: We maintain a by-donation policy to ensure that everyone can eat at the Potato, regardless of financial circumstances. Also, our commitment to be vegan is partly to ensure that our food is accessible. We cater to the religious, ethical and dietary needs of all students. As long as we have food, we never turn a student away. We feel that meeting the basic needs of all students creates a more accessible university.
Worker Empowerment: Our principles of paying all workers at an equal rate and making decisions by consensus are part of our vision of creating a non-hierarchical, supportive work place. We hope that everyone working on the project can contribute their special talents equally, take responsibility and initiative in the work they do, and at the same time, be able to learn new skills.
Environmental Sustainability: We strive to be kind to the environment by producing as little waste as possible. We buy in bulk, avoiding packaging. We compost all of our organic material, and recycle most of the rest, so we produce virtually no garbage for the 400-600 meals we serve. The beans, grains and fresh produce we use are lower down on the food chain and take less energy to grow than raising meat. We buy fresh produce from the farmers market, as shopping locally supports local farmers and the environment.
Health: We believe in serving the healthiest meal possible. Accordingly, we use unprocessed whole foods and ensure that every meal is nutritionally balanced. Our education program also addresses nutritional concerns, and gives students the tools to cook healthy vegetarian food on their own.
Building Alternatives: Our commitment to creating an empowering work space is part of our larger goal of building alternatives to corporate-dominated capitalist methods of doing business. We operate in a not-for-profit structure to build a service that benefits the community. We strive to encourage students and communities to mobilize their resources to take control of their own spaces. Thinking about what we feed ourselves (healthy, nutritious food) and how we feed ourselves (through local communities, not global corporations), is one important step towards building alternatives at a local level.
With such a diverse mandate and such a committed energetic collective, we have many projects on the go. Here’s what is happening at the Potato, how these projects fit into our goals, and how you can get involved.
Daily Servings: We serve by-donation daily vegan meals, between 12:30 and 2 pm on the seventh floor of the Hall building of Concordia. And, if you can’t make it during those times, come check out back in the kitchen for leftovers from the day’s meals! All of our 13 staff members, plus 80 volunteers, work together to serve between 400 and 600 students every school day. All of our volunteers and staff learn a lot about vegan nutrition and food preparation through working together on this project.
Street Servings: In addition to our daily servings on the 7th floors, we take food outside daily to serve to people on the street in the neighbourhood.
Our education coordinators work together with le Frigo Vert to offer diverse educational programming that includes cooking workshops, talks on food politics and nutrition related issues, and D-I-Y. This program furthers our mandate by educating and empowering students to be more self-sufficient, and to make socially and ecologically conscious choices around food and nutrition. Keep your eyes open for flyers and posters announcing upcoming workshops.
Garden: We have a site on Loyola Campus, where we have a garden during the summer that provides a small amount of food to the People’s Potato kitchen. It is part of the victory garden network of Action-Communiterre which encourages people to use their backyards and community spaces to grow organic food for themselves and people in need of produce.
Food Security Issues: We are in the process of linking up with other community organizations that work on food distribution, vegetarianism, and poverty issues. Through these links we can strengthen the work we do. We also make our kitchen facilities available to community organizations.