Fair Trade coffee is available in Frog Bytes again after student activists met with representatives from TCU Dining Services last week.At the end of the 2005 spring semester, the activist group Frogs for Fair Trade succeeded in its mission to make fair trade coffee available in Frog Bytes, Bistro Burnett and the now closed Jazzman’s Cafe, said Seth Harris, president of Frogs for Fair Trade.
Harris said when he returned this fall, he was surprised to find fair trade coffee wasn’t being sold anymore.
“We’ve been trying since February of last year to get it sold at TCU,” Harris said. “So for a lot of us it was frustrating not to see it when we came back this year.”
The director of operations for TCU Dining Services, Everard Barnes Jr., explained to Frogs for Fair Trade members in a meeting last Thursday that fair trade coffee was no longer offered due to a lack of demand.
“When we first put the fair trade coffee out, there was a fair amount of people that ordered it,” Barnes said. “As the year went on it dissipated tremendously to where we’d brew a pot and maybe one person, or two or three people would order it.”
However, Dining Services agreed to put fair trade coffee back in Frog Bytes on the terms that Frogs for Fair Trade create a demand for the product by promoting it.
Harris said he is frustrated the agreement is not permanent, but the group will respect the agreement with Dining Services and continue to raise awareness for the coffee on campus.
“Fair trade should always at least be offered if not just totally replacing the entire line,” Harris said. “It should be more of an ethical commitment and a commitment based on the values that I feel TCU has and are hopefully shared by people running Dining Services.”
Frogs for Fair Trade received $1,000 from the Student Government Association, which they have used to make shirts and give away free coffee every Thursday night at Senseless Acts of Comedy’s show.
This semester the group also plans to have information tables in the Student Center and will put up banners and signs to promote their cause, Harris said.
The remainder of the money will provide funding for group members to travel to Denver for the United Students for Fair Trade conference in February, he said.
Legia Abato, the marketing manager for TCU Dining Services, said fair trade coffee has been available in the library since the re-opening of Bistro Burnett two weeks ago, and said Dining Services intends to honor the commitment they made last spring by selling fair trade coffee in Frog Bytes again.
In Bistro Burnett, there is a sign next to the coffee dispensers advertising the availability of fair trade coffee; however, it is not on the overhead menu and there is not a fair trade label on the coffee dispensers.
When asked for fair trade coffee Monday, an employee behind the counter was unable to provide it.
The manager of Bistro Burnett, Tina Gordon, said this situation was most likely because the employee lacked proper training and the coffee should have been available upon request.
Kelly Hanson, Frogs for Fair Trade co-coordinator, said she wanted to buy fair trade coffee in Bistro Burnett when it opened, but didn’t because it didn’t appear to be available.
“If it’s not on the menu then what’s the point?” Hanson said.
Abato said a new, more detailed sign will be put up in Bistro Burnett as soon as possible that will make ordering fair trade coffee less confusing for students.
In Frog Bytes, students ordering fair trade coffee will pay for it at the register before they are given a cup, which they will then fill up themselves, said Stan Rush, retail manager for Dining Services.