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January 10, 2002 People's Potato soup kitchen hoping to branch out



by Barbara Black

Zev Tiefenbach, the initiator of a student-run soup kitchen at the university called The People’s Potato, has written to Rector Frederick Lowy to ask for a student-run cafeteria.

His letter says, in part, “Over the last few months I have been closely involved with the MSA (Muslim Student Association), working with them to provide several thousand meals to Muslim students throughout the holy month of Ramadan.

“The working relationship that formed was exceptional and many ideas have been discussed to strengthen campus unity and to build a diverse and empowered community at the university.”

The students want to run an operation that would permit student groups to “produce and sell foods.” He adds, “We believe that we have the skills, knowledge and expertise to make such a project not only feasible but a monumental success for the Concordia community.”

Vice-Rector Services Michael Di Grappa said that the proposal for a student-food cafeteria is “consistent with our intentions to provide food services that reflect the diversity of the university community.”

He added that the food services contract, which is currently held by a private supplier, is up for review in May. This might be an interesting way to complement a new contract that we will sign with an outside provider.”

However, he said, it is important to ensure that any food supplier provides continuity and stability. “We will have to discuss specifics with the People’s Potato at the appropriate time.”

The People’s Potato started two years ago with volunteer labour and donations, and went through an arduous period when heavy cauldrons of hot soup and other food had to be transported manually via the Hall Building’s elevators, escalators and staircases from the seventh-floor preparation area to the basement of Reggie’s.

Organizers stuck with the project, and various departments of the university have contributed help, both financial and in services. Part of the seventh floor was renovated, and The People’s Potato has been located there this year alongside the conventional cafeteria.