A new café officially opened in Fredericton on Wednesday that is hoping to redistribute any profits back into the community and reshape how school cafeterias operate across the country.
Café d’ici had a fairly normal grand opening on Wednesday night with local politicians, businesses and customers checking out the new menu and prizes.
But this isn’t a normal café. Café d’ici is tucked inside the Centre Communautaire Sainte-Anne and is operated by a collective.
This is the latest business venture launched by the non-profit group. In September, the group took over the cafeterias operated by École Sainte-Anne and École des Batisseurs, which are connected to the community centre.
Similar to its plans for the cafeterias, the group is putting an emphasis on local food on the café's menu.
The aim of the café is to use 10 per cent organic food, 30 per cent New Brunswick food, and 60 per cent Canadian food.
The whole process is being watched closely by other schools. If this collective succeeds with the cafeterias and the café, it may change how schools operate across the country.
The business would be a boon to local producers over the long term because of the amount of food schools use.
David English is one of many farmers who will be selling to the café.
"We have recently become one of their suppliers of the local cheeses made on our farms, and also some of the meat pies," he said.
Café must be self-supporting
In September, the group hired a chef to create a healthier, locally sourced menu for the cafeterias. It also took over the catering business attached to the francophone community auditorium and gallery.
Though the group is non-profit, it must be self-supporting to continue. The organization has three years to prove itself.
Marc Allain, the group’s director, said their initial enthusiasm for all things local had to be re-adjusted a bit.
"Sometimes the local choice is easier, sometimes it's harder, sometimes it's not possible. We have to be able to tell which is the proper time, and best efficient way of attaining our values," Allain said.
The group has also convinced other business people to lend a hand financially.
Ron Whitney, a coffee seller, liked the group’s idea so much, he bought the café its coffee machines.
Whitney said he is not expecting a huge financial return for the business arrangement.
"Business people typically want to make money, but no, it's more to give back to the community, because I really believe in the project," he said.