Student-run Bevier Cafe pays it forward to others
URBANA, Ill. (WAND) - Everybody deserves to eat, and a cafe at the University of Illinois is making it possible for anyone to get a warm meal.
Bevier Cafe is a student-run cafe at the U of I, where students get a chance to gets hands-on learning in the food industry.
"Students get a chance to experiential learning, to really run a food service operation and learn the ins and outs of how to do that," said Carter Phillips, the quantity food manager at the U of I.
Students rotate all different positions, and from cashier to pastry chef, they learn all of the typical roles people will see in restaurants.
Bevier Cafe seems like a regular campus cafe - that is, until a person heads to the checkout line. Here, they have four different ways to pay for their meal. The first is paying the regular price of the meal, like a normal restaurant. The second is paying a little more and maybe rounding up to the nearest dollar. The third is paying a little less, if maybe the buyer's wallet was tight that day. Lastly, one can use the pay it forward method.
"You can purchase a $10 meal voucher for someone else. You can either distribute that to someone that you know would enjoy a meal or needs a meal, or we can put it in a communal vessel that we have at the front of our line, so that anyone comes in, can grab one of those vouchers and use it to pay." said Phillips.
The pay it forward option can work for someone who wants a meal but cannot afford it, so they can grab one at the entrance of the cafe and use it for their meal.
One student said it is encouraging and inspiring to see many people buying vouchers so others can afford a meal.
"We've had over 100 or so use that method. It's very inspiring and it feels really good to know that we're offering this," said Bevier Cafe student employee Tamika Bobo.
Phillips said he wants to fight food insecurity and knows this is a tough time for many people. He said the $10 it takes to buy a voucher for someone else can go a long way.
"It's such an impact on their lives, right, with the hospitality industry struggling, there's just there's fewer jobs to be had, especially for our students and now they have an opportunity to make sure that they're getting properly fed," he said.
The cafe is open to faculty and students, but once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, Bevier Cafe will be open to the public.