Photo By: Ezezz Redd
Over the course of the past year, the Student Food Collective and partners from A.S. Business Services and the Isla Vista Food Co-op have made major headway to implement their vision to bring healthy and affordable ethically sourced food to our campus. The “IV Thought For Food” project is a bold and pioneering effort to initiate a student-run, cooperatively owned and democratically managed sustainable business service.
It’s clear that our UCSB campus and surrounding Isla Vista community is no stranger to change. The Arbor area walkway is enjoying a refreshing facelift. Davidson Library expansion and renovation are underway. And, as with every Spring quarter, the arrival of new A.S. representatives anticipates possible changes in policy, legislation, and shifts in the direction of student organizations for the upcoming year. The Student Food Collective (SFC) in particular, however, stands poised and ready to make what is arguably the most significant campus change to date.
Since February, SFC co-directors UCSB fourth-year Environmental Studies major Andrew Chang and fourth-year Environmental Studies and Business major Anthony Rum have worked in close diligence with key supporting A.S. Executive Director Marisela Marquez and Legislative Council members third-year Political Science major Stanley Tzankov and fourth-year Environmental Studies major Fabian Gallardo. They joined efforts to push for A.S. financial backing of a student owned and operated sustainable restaurant café. Their efforts resulted in astounding success. With a sweeping unanimous Legislative Council vote in favor of the project, Tzankov and Gallardo found $250,000 in their mindfully determined and capable hands.
The next step was to establish the financial viability of the café’s 6521 Pardall locale. UCSB fourth year Neotribal studies major Tucker Garrison, SFC’s policy coordinator, has thoroughly seen through the details of this process. Leasing negotiations for the space have been made, and extensive reports by third party brokers and inspectors, as well as A.S. attorneys, have voiced the location’s feasibility to house the project.
With every meeting, every decision, and every handshake, SFC felt an unstoppable momentum propelling them forward. The stage finally seemed set for what was once an optimistic ideal, now to fully manifest into a bonafide and integrated relationship between the University and the Isla Vista community. But, as with any endeavor, obstacles and impediments inevitably tend to arise.
For the newly elected A.S. President, Harrison Weber, unfamiliarity with SFC and its project breeds uncertainty regarding it’s success. On top of that, Weber finds support from Vice Chancellor Michael Young’s misgivings about the integrity of “IV Food for Thought.” However, it’s admittedly expected that Young would take care to scrutinize the project’s legitimacy. But of course, SFC and co. show no signs of worry.
“Some of their concerns are warranted,” concedes Anthony Rum, “but we feel completely confident in our ability to answer them again.”
Both Weber and Young suggest that SFC and its A.S. partners reassess their initial evaluations in regards to the viability of the restaurant locale and the general student backing of the project.
“But we’ve already done the due diligence,” said Garrison, “all of the Vice Chancellor’s concerns are ones we’ve either answered or are so minor and easily taken care of that they shouldn’t merit a halt in our progress.”
Anthony Rum regards this stifling redundancy as putting an unnecessary “kink in things,” but they’re not overly worried. “The culinary combo of our café and mobile cart will change this campus food system and transform students’ relationship to the community,” Andrew Chang assures. As long as Weber and Young are reasonable, SFC should have no problem getting their “prized horse back on the track.”