Pay What You Can In Northern Colorado

Pay What You Can In Northern Colorado

4 donated-based restaurants thrive

FoCo Cafe

As they bid her goodbye the door closed quietly behind, and she walked away humbled, inspired and grateful.

FoCo Cafe is the first successful donation-based restaurant in Fort Collins. Customers are invited to pay what they would normally pay, what they are able to pay, pay it forward or to pay with their time and volunteer.

Cafe Executive Director Mallory Andrews is one of four employees, but there are just under 2,000 volunteers in the system. Volunteers prep and cook food, clean and help close, bus tables, administrative work, donation sorting, help host fundraisers and more.

“The mix of guests that we get is really one of our most important aspects,” Andrews said. “It is important that we keep that client base to keep our mission alive.”

FoCo Cafe started feeding the community Thanksgiving Day of 2014. The entire kitchen was donated, and the staff all volunteers.

Co-founders Jeff and Kathleen Baumgardner recently retired to Hawaii, where they are planning their next adventure. The two spent almost every day working at the cafe for three years, sometimes volunteering up to 80 hours a week.

Andrews and her fellow employees are excited to carry on the concept. Part of which includes minimizing waste.

"We've been told that we could possibly qualify as a no-waste restaurant,” she said. “So we are looking into the capacity to do that.”

All compostable items (paper towels, coffee grounds, tea bags, leftover plate food, etc.) go into the compost. The better scraps are saved and fed to chickens in town. The rest is used for worm composting.

Trash is limited to non-compostable, non-recyclable items. “All of our trash is taken out once a week, and it's less trash than my household of three people.”

You won’t find a community like the one at FoCo Cafe anywhere else, but there are three other restaurants in CO that offer meals on a pay-what-you-can basis.

1. Cafe 180 - Soup and sandwich lunch spot south of Denver in Englewood.

2. SAME Cafe - Small plates and other lunch options in downtown Denver.

3. Seeds Community Cafe - Breakfast and lunch menu made with locally sourced ingredients in Colorado Springs.

Managing a profitable restaurant is a challenge, let alone a non-profit. Stop in today to help keep the mission alive, or sign up to volunteer!

Not sure which cafe will fit best with your itinerary? Check out the map for location and hours. If you’d like a behind-the-scenes tour of the FoCo Cafe, just call ahead and the staff will be happy to accommodate you.
Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Prep These Snacks for Healthy On Campus Treats

Easy to Prep, Easy to Take With You

Eating healthy on a college campus can be a bit of a chore, especially when you’ve got fast food places every few feet, and the college meal plan doesn’t exactly offer the healthiest options. Snacks are normally limited to whatever you can get out of the vending machines, so chips and candy bars are a staple. If you want to eat a little healthier, here are some healthy snacks that you can prep easily to take with you to class, the dorm room, or wherever you need to go — even if you don’t have a kitchen to cook in.

Fresh Fruit

Most fresh fruit needs to be refrigerated, but you do have some options if you don’t want to haul around a portable cooler or lunchbox to your classes.

  • Apples are awesome sources of fiber and can be stored in a bag or backpack without refrigeration. Other tree fruits — pears, peaches, nectarines, etc — can also work, though you might need to be a bit more careful with someone of these. They’re soft enough that they might squish in your bag if they end up under a textbook.
  • Bananas — A potassium powerhouse, these little self-wrapped fruits are perfect if you need a quick pick me up during the day.
  • Citrus Fruits — Oranges, Tangelos and Mandarins are great little snacks, as long as you have somewhere to dispose of the peel when you’re done.


This might seem messy, but apple sauce packets designed for small children can be a great way to carry a healthy snack with you without the need for a spoon. If you’re handy though, you can turn the foil lid of a regular applesauce cup into a spoon with a few twists! As an added bonus, many of these packets contain other fruits and some even contain vegetables.

Green Bean Chips

These sound a little odd but hear us out — dried green beans have the consistency of potato chips while giving you all the nutritional benefits of regular green beans. You can buy them pre-packaged (check your local farmers market if you don’t see them at the grocery store) or you can make them yourself, just by drying them for a few hours in a cool oven.

Fresh Vegetables

These might require some refrigeration, but you won’t need anything more than a cutting board and a good knife to prepare them. Some good vegetable options might include:

  • Carrots — alone or with hummus or dip, these snacks keep for quite a while in your bag, making them ideal for between class snacks.
  • Celery — while it doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value, it’s super tasty when paired with peanut butter or other nut butters.
  • Sugar Snap Peas — a tasty treat with a hint of sweetness, these can be eaten raw and whole or dried into chips.

Any fresh vegetable you can chop up and stick in a container can potentially be a good snack. Some of the softer vegetables, like tomatoes or cucumbers, should be stored with a cold pack though to keep them fresh.


Most nuts, like almonds, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts, are packed full of good protein and fiber to keep you going throughout the day. They also don’t need any refrigeration, so you can stash them in your bag and forget about them until you need them. If you get bored of one type, it’s easy to mix them up. They’re also a great addition to any trail mix.

Just be careful to enjoy them in moderation. While nuts are good for you, they can also be high in calories.

Nut Butters

If crunching on nuts in a quiet lecture hall doesn’t appeal to you, try switching to nut butters instead. They have all the nutritional benefits of the nuts themselves, come in a variety of types, and can be spread on just about anything. Make a nut butter and jelly sandwich, eat celery with nut butter, or spread it on crackers — the sky is the limit. Stick to natural or organic nut butters though — these usually don’t have any additives, which makes for a healthier snack.


Don’t start loading up the butter. Without all the extra toppings, popcorn can be one the healthiest snacks in your arsenal. Invest in a cheap air popper — they’re about $20 at Wal-Mart and take up very little counter space — and pop your own. It’s okay to add a little bit of butter, but you don’t want to make it equal the stuff you can get at the movie theater.

Protein Bars

These aren’t always the healthiest option, depending on the brand you choose, but they can do in a pinch and many are flavored with chocolate or other sweet options, making it easier to pick up a protein bar instead of a chocolate candy bar. Look for brands that are low in processed sugars and made with all natural ingredients.


This savory spread is made from chickpeas, which are high in protein, and can be paired with just about anything. Dip carrots or pretzels in it, spread it on crackers, or use it as a replacement for mayo on your turkey sandwich. Hummus can be high in salt, depending on the flavors that are added to it, so enjoy it in moderation. It does also need to be refrigerated, so stash your hummus in with your fresh vegetables or other cold snacks.

Snacking on campus doesn’t need to be entirely unhealthy, even if you do enjoy your chips and candy bars. Supplement your snack regimen with a few of these healthy alternatives to help you lower your sugar intake and keep you energized so you can get to all those early morning classes!

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To My Beloved Starbucks, Thank You

I could not do it without you.

Dear Starbucks,

I cannot thank you enough.

You have truly helped me survive school, work, and just life in general. I truly enjoy the whole Starbucks brand.

Since I have been in college, you have always given me a good place to study. There are two Starbucks on my campus and each has just the right amount of noise, the smell of coffee, and always enough sunshine or lighting to read or write.

I have never met anyone who works at Starbucks who I have not liked. I am sure being a barista is a stressful job, and the things I have seen people order and ask for are absurd. However, I have never seen a Starbucks employee not fulfill these needs with a smile.

If only your drinks were always 50% off, I think you would truly fulfill my greatest dreams.

Respectfully Yours,

A Coffee Lover

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