Sometimes it is really difficult living in a digitally-based society. We are constantly connected to The State Of Things via social media, flooded with news about the most horrific, unimaginable events going on around us. There are daily updates about violence of all kinds. People seem to be divided more than ever. With it being an election year, there’s constant back and forth about political opinions and it seems the worst of people come out during it.
The internet can be an ugly place as it highlights some of the most disparaging parts of our society. I feel like I regularly sigh with exasperation, “Jesus, we suck as people.”
But, there are stories of hope, of good, and of empathy. If there’s anything I take away from this bombardment of the negative, it’s how important it is to focus on empathy. This seems to be the only solution (which shouldn’t be all that shocking).
Our homeless community neighbors are often in the spotlight of local attention, with most of the feedback from the peanut gallery being exceptionally negative. It’s a challenging problem without easy solutions in our economy, but it’s fascinating how many of us in this community who aren’t struggling as much lack empathy for those who are at their lowest. However, Fort Collins does indeed have people who care deeply, like those involved with FoCo Cafe. These people are making a positive impact fueled by empathy and respect.
I first heard about FoCo Cafe years ago when they began their rally for community support to get their concept off the ground. Kathleen Baumgardener did an Ignite presentation that had some compelling facts on why Fort Collins needs FoCo Cafe.
Here we are just a few years later, and the FoCo Cafe is Feeding Our Community Ourselves with healthy nutritious meals no matter how much, or how little, they can pay for it, and under these values:
Every human innately has dignity and should be treated as such. This really sticks with me, and it’s something that our Fort Collins community should reflect on when digital contention arises.
I visited FoCo Cafe for lunch with a friend and got the full experience. The cafe is housed in a cute, small building that makes you feel like you’re eating in someone’s home kitchen, with a garden to assist in growing some of their own food.
Photo Credit: FoCo Cafe Facebook Page
The menu for the day is displayed on chalkboards on the sidewalk, above the kitchen, and on the website, with rotating menus depending on the season, donations, and what ingredients are available. They do have some standard regular menu items, though. A number of these healthy meals also cater to dietary restrictions. You’ll find vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free meals available.
Photo Credit: FoCo Cafe Facebook Page
All meals are made by community volunteers and served by volunteers. And you’ll see cafe cofounder, Jeff Baumgardener cheerfully scooping up servings of soups and salads on the line too.
Service is cafeteria-style, lining up and getting as many options as you’d like from the menu. You can very well get a flight of soups if that’s what you want. And Jeff is sure to let you know that it’s OK, and very much wants to you feel like you can walk away with a very full plate. Kind of like eating at Grandma’s house.
The meals are almost surprisingly healthy. They are fresh, delicious, and make you feel good – something that everyone in our community deserves access to! One of the struggles for those living in poverty is being able to afford fresh produce. It’s easy to buy cheap garbage food, but a salad is shamefully more expensive. Fortunately FoCo Cafe is dedicated to providing nutritious meals at whatever price you can afford.
It’s a place that is filled with positivity, right down to the motivational messages wrapped around each napkin.
After enjoying your lunch, you can pay for your meal at a self-service corner. There’s no cashier, no receipts, and nobody knows how much you’re paying. So, there’s no judgement either. There’s a box for cash donations and an iPad for card transactions, and it really is whatever you can pay. It’s amazing.
Not only does FoCo Cafe provide delicious meals, but they also host the soon-to-be FoCo Freedge to help reduce food waste and increase access to produce (you can donate to the crowdfunding for this project), as well as the Giving Tree that provides non-edible items for those in need.
I came back for a second visit with my kids to show them what it was all about and have lunch together for the review. It was an unbearably hot day and there was a line of people out the door, many of them obviously hungry. FoCo Cafe is only open for lunch from 11-2pm, so the lines can be long if you get there later in the afternoon.
“You know what kids, let’s find someplace else to eat today. We don’t want to make people wait in line longer than they have to in this heat because it’s really uncomfortable. We’ll come back another day.” And if that happens to you, too – you can always donate just because you’re a part of a community that wants to see this cafe succeed.
225 Maple Street
Parking: Street parking.
Healthy Options? Plenty. Vegetarian, Vegan, Dairy-Free, and Gluten-Free options
Budget-Friendly? The best – whatever you can afford to pay
Recent Health Inspection: No Rating