Food Co-op satellite agreement finalized

The Food Co-op will open a second store in Price Center, under an agreement brokered among the university, Associated Students and co-op officials on March 1.

Kaia Lai

“Students have wanted a low-cost food alternative in Price Center for quite some time now,” A.S. President Jenn Pae said. “It’s great that we came together to make this happen.”

The satellite store is scheduled to open in approximately 60 days, and will serve a variety of alternative foods and drinks.

“We’re very excited and strongly look forward to serving students in the Price Center,” said John Walton, a principal member of the Food Co-op. “We’re expecting to have a different constituency, bringing a new atmosphere and service to Price Center.”

Specifically, the co-op will serve food free of preservatives, colorings, additives or processed chemicals, according to the finalized space agreement.

Unlike the original co-op, the new store will feature a hot food bar, serving products such as rice, curry and stir-fry. Likewise, many of its original products like Che Cafe-made burritos and sandwiches, Juice Evolution drinks, chips and cookies will be served, Walton said.

“I think it’s great they’re adding something new and different in Price Center,” Thurgood Marshall College senior Hilary Bettinelli-Olpin said. “It will be a cool break from the typical commercial junk food.”

The idea for a second food co-op location arose several years ago when a space in Price Center became available. Polls taken in 2002 showed that the majority of students were interested in an organic food store. Since then, lease negotiations between the university and the co-op have been ongoing.

According to the space agreement, both Associated Students and the Graduate Student Association will maintain certain oversight responsibilities over the lease as official representatives of UCSD students. Specifically, they will work to certify that the Food Co-op is acting in the best interest of students, and that it remains “financially solvent.”

In accordance with this responsibility, the A.S. Council reviewed and unanimously approved relevant sections of the space agreement.

The co-op will pay $178 in rent per month, adjusted monthly for inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index, which is published by the United States Department of Labor. The lease covers a period of 24 months, giving the co-op the option to extend for four successive two-year periods.

The deal has come amid ongoing, and at times turbulent, negotiations over the space currently occupied by the original co-ops.

In October, the university threatened to evict the four co-ops — Groundwork Books, the Food Co-op, the General Store and Che Cafe — when negotiations for a new lease stalled.

The university argued that the Memorandum of Understanding, a document that outlined the general lease agreement, had expired. As a result, university officials wanted to renegotiate the agreement to allow for greater oversight of co-op operating procedures.

The co-ops, on the other hand, had claimed that the MOU had no legal date of expiration, and was therefore not open to amendments.

Although the university backed away from the threat of eviction, the parties have been involved in negotiations since November.

Currently, all parties involved in the discussions have signed a confidentiality agreement and would not comment on the current progress of the negotiations. However, a press release issued by Campus Ombudsperson Judith Bruner stated that she was somewhat optimistic.

“All of the co-ops, the administration and A.S. and GSA are continuing their good faith negotiations regarding the other co-op space agreements,” stated Bruner, who is mediating the talks.