FOCO cafe: Feeding Our Community Ourselves

by Rebecca LaPole

The only non-profit restaurant in Fort Collins, FoCo Cafe, provides nutritious, seasonal and delicious meals to people regardless of their ability to pay, Monday through Saturday from 11am-2pm. It is their intent to build a healthy community by inviting everyone in to be part of a solution. One of their values is: “All people need a hand up at some point(s) in their lives,” and all of us are able to give a helping hand.”

Co-founders Kathleen & Jeff Baumgardner recently celebrated FoCo Cafe’s year anniversary with a Thanksgiving lunch and are currently spreading “warm wishes” with donated scarves that include a message of hope. Join them by donating on Colorado Gives Day, Tuesday, Dec. 8, a state-wide day of giving to non-profits, and be part of their “Party with a Purpose” celebration at Odell Brewing that evening from 7-9 pm.

FoCo Cafe serves soups, salads, breads and desserts that are made from local, organic, and sustainably grown ingredients, including a lot of community involvement and love. Jeff is the executive chef and he and the “volunteers are here all day,” Kathleen said with a smile. “All walks of life come in, from the Mayor and City Council members, to people with no money or home. The people in need really understand the value of this. They are overwhelmed by the difference it has made in their lives, and it’s really heart-warming.”

Kathleen added, “The community made this place happen. Through volunteerism, soup spoons, and jeans that were donated and sewn into chair seats… every piece of the place has a story. Even our pine beetle kill donation box was donated.” The outpouring of donations is evident throughout the building at 225 Maple: there are wind chimes on the patio made by Girl Scouts, patio furniture from Jax Fish House, and chairs from Starbucks. All of the cafe’s plates were donated, their tables were from a young women’s detention center, refinished by a local retired couple and the US Green Building Council student chapter at CSU, the Fort Collins Country Club donated chalkboards, and Karina Branson did the chalkboard art that explains their values and mission.

Their food comes from partnering with the Food Co-op, CSA shares at Fort Collins farms Garden Sweet and Buena Vida, and Harvest Farm in Wellington, and donations from Trader Joe’s and the Waffle Lab. Their coffee is from Silver Canyon in Boulder and their delicious herbal tea is from Happy Lucky Teahouse. Their ability to purchase high-quality food has come from “some grants, monetary donations from people, and the donation box,” Kathleen explained.

Kathleen is a huge supporter of local businesses and reminded, “money you give to local businesses stays in the community and helps those around you fund their dreams.” They have two unique fundraisers that anyone can participate in: Purchase a reloadable $5 King Soopers gift card, and anything you spend automatically gives 5% back to FoCo Cafe. “We also sell meal tokens for $10/each,” Kathleen said. “Give one to anyone and introduce them to something they can get involved in. Find common ground with someone who might be very different from you.”

Volunteer your time or just go to eat delicious food and support the community around you.

For more info about the Colorado Gives Day Celebration scheduled for December 8, visit coloradogives.org/NoCoGives/FoCoCafe/overview.

Visit: FoCoCafe.org, Facebook.com/FoCoCafe

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