GFC opens four weeks late


Amasa Smith

Katie Stanger, ’16, waits as Maggie Dugan, ’18, rings up her order in Grounds for Change. Matthew Deutsch, ’18, not pictured, helps Dugan prepare Stanger’s coffee. Dugan and Deutsch are new student workers, volunteering their free time to run the coffee shop.

After four weeks’ delay and with a newly installed water filtration system, Grounds for Change (GFC) opens its doors to students once again.
“What makes it difficult is that we want GFC to open, but we have to wait for the company to reply and to install the new water filtration system,” said GFC Board Member Melissa Mattwig, ’17, before GFC opened on Wednesday, Sept. 24.
GFC was forced to delay its opening this semester. While replacing the previous espresso machine–fondly named “Herb”–this summer, Physical Plant discovered the coffee shop’s water filtration system was over its expiration date. The system was in use for more than the seven years it was allotted.
The GFC board went through Allegheny Student Government (ASG) and The Office of Student Involvement (OSI) to install a new system. Four weeks into the semester, on Tuesday, Sept. 23., the new water filtration system was installed. GFC opened the following day and expects to have its new espresso machine (named “Paprika”) installed next week.

Volunteers and board members put up signs informing students of the opening date.
Rachel Wang
Volunteers and board members put up signs informing students of the opening date.

Replacing the water filtration system was a setback that the board was not anticipating coming into the new year.
“We want to be responsible, so we waited until we were sure the environment was safe and fit the health code,” said Nick Gordon, ’15, the president of GFC.
Breanna Whiting, ’17, has been volunteering at GFC since last spring and will continue working this semester.

“Late is better than never,” said Whiting. “I am looking forward to coming here when I have free time or want to talk with friends…As a volunteer last semester, it was a pain to not be able to offer the full menu since the Espresso machine was broken. It is a smart move for the board to wait. And now GFC is opening earlier than expected. I think people are ready for GFC to be open.”
Located on the second floor in the Campus Center, the coffee house is a product of a junior seminar project. GFC is a nonprofit coffee shop on campus, run and managed by student volunteers. Volunteers work shifts without pay but receive free coffee during work hours. The coffee shop’s goal is to create a space for individuals and groups to socialize, study, conduct discussions and hold and attend campus events.
Currently there are 12 board members, nine being on campus this semester.
“We are like the glue that holds GFC together and keeps it running,” said Mattwig.
Mattwig is in charge of the atmosphere of GFC, cleaning the space and making sure it looks presentable.
Emmett Barr, ’17, is also a previous volunteer and current board member.
“I love volunteering here and that is one of the reasons I want to be on board,” said Barr. “I saw the impacts this place has on them and I want to be a part of this cohesive group.”
Barr works at Confections of a Cake Lover, from which GFC receives food items, located in downtown Meadville and has a self-proclaimed passion for desserts and baking. Barr hopes to bring his knowledge and love for food to GFC this year and is excited to communicate with other local bakery providers including Save Room For Dessert and Creative Crust.

The sprinkle bar gives students the opportunity to add some spice and color to drinks and ice cream that GFC occasionally offers.
Amasa Smith
The sprinkle bar gives students the opportunity to add some spice and color to drinks and ice cream that GFC occasionally offers.

GFC strives to support local food and environmental sustainability. Besides the desserts from local bakeries, GFC gets its coffee from Happy Mug Coffee Company in Edinboro, Pa., which also sells to The Market House in downtown Meadville.
In addition to providing coffee and food, GFC hosts a wide range of events, often including performative group projects and bringing bands to the venue.
“Events here tend to be causal, to bring in intimate people, where then can feel comfortable,” said Mattwig. “And everything in GFC, unless it is behind the counter, is open to the public.”
Jared Balik, ’16, has enjoyed GFC’s atmosphere since his first year at Allegheny.
“I use the space to do work and socialize,” said Balik. “It is a space where I can be extroverted while also being introverted. I can surround myself with people and I can zone out and do work. It is a reliable place for me to get work done.”