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Pacific’s Kitchen Co-op: A recipe for success

Pacific's new Kitchen Co-op gives students and staff a place to cook healthy meals together on campus
Johanna BakmasJul 16, 2015

Pacific students Oscar Chow, Brandon Bell, Josh Arucan, and Alisha Chang have fun while cooking a meal together in the new Kitchen Co-op.

Something new is cooking across the street from University of the Pacific — literally. Behind door No. 5 in the Towerview Apartments complex on Dave Brubeck Way is the university's new Kitchen Co-op.

Along with the Ted and Chris Robb Garden on the Stockton campus and the new Master of Arts in Food Studies program opening this fall at the San Francisco campus, the Kitchen Co-op is one more ingredient in Pacific's recipe for helping students build a connection between food and the environment.   

Born out of a collaboration among Housing, Pacific Wellness, Sustaining Pacific, Bon Appétit and funds from a sustainability grant, the Kitchen Co-op is a fully equipped kitchen available for use each semester. Within its first few months of operation, the kitchen already had over 30 memberships from students, staff, faculty and student organizations.  

"One student rented it every week to make his favorite home-cooked meals," says Kendra Bruno, sustainability coordinator for the University. "We also saw a lot of use from student clubs. Hillel rented it to make latkes for Passover and the Vietnamese club and Matsuri club used it before their bake sales."  

It's a space where students can make their favorite meal if they are homesick or cook dinner for a date. The sofa, stereo and projector screen also make it the perfect place to bake cookies and watch movies with friends. For the more ambitious cook, the Co-op hosts several food classes throughout the semester. Classes have covered macaroon making, an introduction to Indian cuisine and a sushi workshop.  

"It's a wonderful opportunity to engage the whole life of a student and help them see the connection between food preparation and how food systems work," says Patrick Day, vice president for Student Life at Pacific.  

Students, staff and groups can join the Co-op by paying a semester membership fee of $35 or use $40 of student meal plan points for unlimited use of the kitchen. Reservations are made online and the kitchen and dining area come fully stocked with dishware, utensils, cooking and baking supplies.  

From allspice to zesters, if you need it, the Co-op probably has it. In what would have been the unit's bedroom are shelves piled high with gadgets. There's a food processor, tea kettle, rice cooker, blender, cast iron skillet, aprons and, for the serious baker, a KitchenAid mixer.  

"We have everything except a Crock-Pot," says Bruno, "we're still holding out for one of those."  

As part of Pacific's sustainability initiative, the Co-op has containers for recyclables like cardboard and plastic and a bin for compost.

All of the Co-op's equipment and supplies were generously donated by faculty, staff and students. In one corner of the room is a framed program from the memorial service for Caroline Cox, a beloved history professor who lost her battle to cancer in 2014. Parts of her kitchen were donated to the Co-op by her family. "It's what Caroline would have wanted," says Bruno.  

As part of Pacific's effort to take into account the environmental, social and economic impacts of everyday choices, nothing in the Co-op goes to waste. After three days, leftover food becomes property of the kitchen or is discarded as staff sees fit. And "discarded" doesn't mean being tossed in the trash. There are containers for recyclables like cartons, glass, plastics numbered 1-7 and a compost bin for food scraps.  

"We want to provide co-curricular experiences that integrate with environmental studies," says Day. "The Kitchen helps students identify a process that they can affect."  

Most importantly, the Co-op will help students make healthier choices. "They don't need to go down the street for fast food - they can make it right here!"    

To learn more about Pacific's Kitchen Co-op or to become a member, visit the Kitchen website or email  

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