Flaming Eggplant Cafe: Cooperative Food Business Management

Fall 2020
Winter 2021
Spring 2021
Class Size: 16
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Lal, Prita
food justice, social movements, urban agriculture, social inequalities

For ten years, the Flaming Eggplant Café (Eggplant) has been a student-run café on campus providing   ethically-sourced, affordable food  and  education in cooperative development  . Students will gain hands-on experience running the Eggplant and learn about the histories and theories of cooperatives, how to manage a cooperative business, and deepen their analysis of power and equity in the food system. Essential questions include: how can workers-owners organize cooperatively in a highly stratified and hierarchical society and food system? As climate change exacerbates, how do cooperatives offer a more resilient business model in the midst of widening economic inequality and rampant environmental degradation? What are the strengths and challenges of cooperatives as socially and ecologically sustainable alternatives to conventional businesses? Resiliency studies, solidarity economics, and food/climate justice are pertinent areas of this program.

In the fall 2020, the Flaming Eggplant plans to shift its operations away from a full-service café toward a Community Supported Kitchen (CSK) model. M odeled off the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model, the Eggplant CSK will be a membership-based program that allows community members to place weekly food orders. This CSK will further include regular community engagement that centers food justice for community members impacted by the social, economic, and public health crises.

The Eggplant is a collaboration between Academics and Student Activities. The academic program will study the histories, theories, and practices of a mission-driven cooperative food business including areas like: culinary training, financial management, consensus decision-making, sustainable and just food systems, anti-oppression education, collective processes & communication, and leadership development. Moreover, the Student Activities position involves the essential functions of food production and customer service including: healthy and safety, line cooking, prep cooking, ordering, inventory, quality assurance, cleaning, kitchen maintenance, and funds-handling.

For fall 2020, learning modalities include a combination of   asynchronous   (self-paced through Canvas) and   synchronous   (scheduled meetings through Zoom)  online learning activities. Regular Zoom class activities include workshops and seminars, as well as collective meetings (roughly four Zoom classes/meetings a week). Seminar discussions will take place through Discussion Boards on Canvas as well, where students will also be able to access weekly modules that include pre-recorded faculty presentations and other program materials.

The program’s applied learning will center around the Community Supported Kitchen (CSK) model, where Eggplant students will build and run a CSK membership and community kitchen on campus. If public health conditions permit, there will be weekly in-person culinary workshops in the café (following proper safety protocols in regards to hygiene and spacing) where students will also prepare the CSK meals.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has created opportunities for the Eggplant to reconnect to its mission in new and exciting ways. Moving forward, the Eggplant will function as a community kitchen, an educational space, and an organizing space to address issues of justice in the food system where students will learn, experiment, and practice. The Eggplant will be a place that centers on building collective power, anti-oppression, and prioritizing work as part of the movement for collective liberation

To successfully participate in this program, students will need a laptop or computer, webcam, and cooking supplies. Students can expect our remote teaching to be around 8 hours of synchronous (scheduled) coursework per week, using Zoom and Canvas. Students will have access to alternatives to synchronous participation if conditions require.


For additional details, see the Flaming Eggplant Sites Page:  https://sites.evergreen.edu/flamingeggplant-20-21/

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

food systems, cooperative leadership, business management, communications, human resources, organizational systems, sustainable development


Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • Fall Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers 50 - 74% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.
  • Winter and Spring: Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
Special expenses:

$100 estimated expenses that students should expect to cover themselves for slip-resistant, closed-toe kitchen shoes and $10 Washington State Food Worker Card.


$130 in fall and $150 in spring for cooking supplies and possible day field trip (if conditions permit)

Class Standing: Sophomore–Senior
Class Size: 16

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Thursday, October 1, 2020 - 1:00 pm

Located in: Olympia

2020-09-11This course is now fully online for fall
2020-07-28Fall quarter signature requirement removed