Machine City will be replaced by a new cafe serving nearly 100 percent sustainable food after renovations on Cross Campus Library are completed next year, Yale officials said.
Library and Dining Services officials said they intend for the cafe to play a distinctive role for Yalies, serving a range of hot drinks and cold foods from environmentally-friendly sources. Several campus activists said they applaud the plan, but some students questioned whether the cafe’s sustainable component is necessary.
Yale President Richard Levin said the Yale Corporation agreed to appropriate funds for the project at their meeting this weekend.
“It was one of the items on the list for appropriation of funds,” Levin said. “It had been discussed at a previous meeting. The Corporation approved it moving forward.”
University Librarian Alice Prochaska said the cafe scheme, which has yet to be officially announced, will be the first sustainable food project run outside of the residential colleges.
“Yale Dining Services decided they could offer this to us, and we jumped at it,” Prochaska said. “It’s a significant step forward in the development of sustainable food on the Yale campus.”
Many of the food offerings have yet to be designed, but officials said the cafe may serve exclusively sustainable food. The menu will include salads and cold sandwiches borrowed from menus in the residential colleges, Dining Services Executive Director Don McQuarrie said, but he said the cafe selection of “fair trade” coffees, espresso, and frozen drinks will set it apart from other dining locations.
“We want to use something that provides a little bit of distinction from what you get in the dining halls,” McQuarrie said.
The cafe will be located at the library’s new main entrance, offering an informal study area for dozens of students, Associate University Librarian Danuta Nitecki said. Officials chose the design from a variety of options that ranged from a self-serve area like Machine City to a national brand-name shop, she said.
Nitecki said the final decision to build a cafe instead was based on surveys, input from student assemblies, and recommendations by an advisory committee.
“Students were not interested in seeing this being just a major commercial outlet,” she said. “The approach that gained the most enthusiastic response was something that would be uniquely Yale and complement what our values and interests are.”
The project itself is also financially self-sustainable, as student cash and flex purchases will pay for its operation, McQuarrie said. It is too soon to know whether the menu’s sustainable offerings will impact its prices, he said, though Dining Services will ensure that it is affordable.
The decision to build the cafe, which was made in the last few weeks, comes during a student-led petition drive to expand the Yale Sustainable Food Project in the residential college dining halls. The campaign has yielded more than 2,400 signatures and 500 survey responses showing that better food quality is important to students, said Wells O’Byrne ’07, who helped lead the effort.
O’Byrne said the CCL cafe plan recognizes the significance of the local sustainable food movement.
“It seems to fall in line with the student demand for more sustainable food on campus, and also Yale’s direction as an environmentally responsible University,” O’Byrne said.
Still, some students said sustainability will not be worthwhile if they have to pay more for it.
“I pay more so I can eat better food, not so I can feel self-righteous,” Sam Heller ’08 said. “I don’t see any reason not to just buy the best food at the lowest prices, whether or not it’s organic.”
The library renovations will last from summer 2006 through summer 2007, during which time CCL and much of Cross Campus will be off-limits to library patrons and pedestrians. In the meantime, staff are preparing for a large-scale rearrangement as they move the CCL collections to Sterling Memorial Library. The CCL Integrated Technology Services cluster will eventually be moved to the nave in the SML lobby, replacing the card catalogues, which will be moved to the basement. Work teams will construct a special space during spring break to store the catalogues.