Cowell Coffee Shop Re-Opens September 27

September 16, 2021

The cafe's Chowbotics unit will assemble fresh, nutritious bowls for patrons, free of charge. Photo: Jacinto Salz

The Cowell Coffee Shop: For the Peoples will reopen to the campus community on September 27. Cafe hours will be 7:30am-3:30pm Monday through Friday, with offerings to include fresh-pressed juices using produce from the UCSC Farm and Garden and the Santa Cruz Community Farmers Markets, coffee, food recovery items from campus and community partners, and custom-made bowls from the new Chowbotics unit, a robotic vending machine that assembles meals from fresh ingredients, all offered free of charge to the campus community.

In addition to offering nutritious, free food, the Cowell Coffee Shop will serve as a community space for students to study and connect with peers. The cafe will also host Slugs in the Kitchen culinary workshops and cooking demonstrations and events for campus organizations, with the first in person event, a Dia de los Muertos celebration in partnership with El Centro, to take place on October 28. The Cowell Coffee Shop will also offer a meal kit on October 9th for the UCSC African American Resource and Culutral Center's “Welcome Black” event, featuring recipes learned this summer during CASFS alumnus CheFarmer Matthew Raiford’s visit in August. 

Located in Cowell College on the UC Santa Cruz campus, the Cowell Coffee Shop was transformed into a student-run, non-transactional cafe and choice-based pantry in 2018 by Colleges, Housing and Educational Services (CHES) and Cowell College in partnership with the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) and the Dean of Students Office. Over the past three years, CASFS has worked to direct an increasing amount of produce from the Farm and Garden to the Cowell Coffee Shop, campus food pantries, and the Produce Pop-Up stand to support UC Santa Cruz’s efforts to ensure students’ basic needs, including access to affordable, nutritious food, are met.

Since early 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted UC Santa Cruz to shift to remote education, the Cowell Coffee Shop served as a distribution hub for second harvest goods and semi-prepared meal kits made from scratch, and offered online culinary workshops, videos, and a remote internship in collaboration with CASFS and the Food Systems Working Group (FSWG). Now that students are returning to campus, the Cowell Coffee Shop team is excited to see how the university landscape has changed after a year and a half of remote instruction, and how the integration of the campus farm-to-student-food-security solutions can continue to grow and evolve. Over the next year, the team will activate its Mobile Food Hub at Oakes College, welcome in interns from the new agroecology major, connect with UC-wide partners and sister programs, and continue to expand and nourish its collaborations with campus and community organizations from farms and fields, through the kitchen, and onto our collective table.