Five students from the class of 2018 have found a fun and creative way to further Fair Trade initiatives at SUA. Rosemarie Bingham, Moira Garry, Savannah Kleeman, Ashley Voelkerding, and Laura Weidemann are the founders of the new Bulldog Boost Coffee Shop, located in Keller.
The idea came about during the end of the 2016-2017 school year. The five girls are all passionate about giving back to the community and the coffee shop seemed like an especially fun way to do it. However, it was not easy to bring to life. There were several meetings about how the coffee shop would get going -- from where would the coffee be, what supplies would be needed, and things like that. The girls would need to make a business-like proposal for the administration to approve. Ms. Kemper, SUA’s Community Service Director, was very helpful in this process. With Saint Ursula’s recent efforts to become more Fair Trade friendly, this is just another initiative that can qualify us as a Fair Trade School, since one of the four requirements is providing readily available Fair Trade resources to teachers and staff.
The shop runs on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 7:30-7:50, in addition to breaks during the exam schedule. “Bulldog Boost was founded with the intention of educating our Saint Ursula community about the Fair Trade initiative and supporting our brothers and sisters in developing countries who are forced to work long hours in dangerous conditions for low wages to obtain coffee beans,” Ashley said. Although several other companies in close proximity to the school tend to be a daily necessity for some Ursula girls, Ashley’s point is the main reason why it is so important to support Fair Trade. Ashley added that “the [coffee] industry is notorious for using child labor and poor treatment of workers,” and that by supporting Bulldog Boost, you are ensuring that laborers are being paid fairly and are working under safe conditions.
Bulldog Boost has a complete menu, along with an assortment of fixings that can be added. Some of their creamer flavors include: French Vanilla, Vanilla Caramel, Hazelnut, and even a seasonal flavor that will change throughout the year. The current seasonal rotation is, of course, pumpkin spice, available through mid November. All flavors can be served hot or iced. So far, the students are enjoying the Vanilla Caramel flavor the most. It’s similar to the Caramel Macchiato that is served at Starbucks. The founders of Bulldog Boost appreciate that girls are giving up other brands in order to support them, so they are trying to make it as professional as possible. “We love topping off your mug with whipped cream and caramel sauce!” the group says. In addition to promoting Fairly Traded goods, the girls have also embraced the sustainability efforts that have been introduced to the school throughout the past couple of years. Coffee is $1.50 if you bring your own mug or $2.00 to drink it in a compostable 8 oz. cup.
Even though it opened less than a month ago on October 6, there are hopes of expanding into a full-service coffee shop, where students would be able to buy edible goods in addition to fulfilling their caffeine cravings. Within three days after opening, over $300 was raised. Profits seem to be steadily increasing as the weeks go on and more people become aware of the shop. If the success continues, a full-service shop is definitely possible in the future. “On the first day of the coffee shop opening we had no idea what we were in for. The amount of interest we’ve received from the opening has really made a difference in our community, and hopefully it will make an impact in the lives of those receiving the donations,” Laura excitedly announced. Proceeds raised will either be donated to the weekly mission collection, Fair Trade organizations, or will be put towards our cooperation in the Unified for Uganda organization, which supports students in Uganda through their elementary to high school education. Wherever the money will be donated each month, it is obvious that it is helping someone who desperately needs it. Savannah added that “whether it be clothing or coffee, our purchases affect the lives of others worldwide. We believe it is important to acknowledge our role in these injustices to ensure we are making ethical decisions that are in line with changing the world for the better.” The student body is poised to see what is to come in the future of Fair Trade.