FoCo Cafe's mission is to build community by providing nutritious and delicious meals with dignity to the people of Fort Collins regardless of their ability to pay while using local, organic, and sustainably grown ingredients.
FoCo Cafe operates with a donation box so you can pay what you can, pay what you would normally pay, pay it forward so others might eat, or you can make your contribution with volunteerism. This allows ALL people to access nutritious meals with dignity and to participate in community, filling a need as basic as that of food.
FoCo Cafe has served 90,000+ beautiful meals as of April 2019. We seek funds for a year of Cafe rent, offsetting our modest budget and helping us focus on our guests and our community!
Sometimes great ideas are hatched while sharing a local beer with friends. A discussion of the amazing work being done by local nonprofits led Jeff Baumgardner to mention that he thought nonprofit cafes should exist. His spouse Kathleen replied that she had seen a news story about one in Denver - SAME Café. And so it began…an e-mail to SAME Café led to volunteering at that cafe within the week, which led both Jeff and Kathleen to research the growing need in Fort Collins. They began setting meetings with anyone and everyone in town, with more than 350 meetings completed to date. The overwhelmingly positive response to a cafe that made healthy and nutritious meals accessible for ALL pushed them forward. Only months later, they found their garage and a large storage unit full of donated kitchen equipment; boxes of dishes would appear on their front porch; e-mails came in from eager volunteers; college students from many majors took on projects; professionals offered valuable services at no cost; and the cafe idea moved from concept to design to build out, to the operational stage.
We are now performing the tasks of fresh food procurement, preparation, service, and clean up each day. We are building community not only by serving nutritious meals but building community in many ways like making our Kids Feeding Kids Summer Family Breakfast Program available.
"I ate here yesterday with my 4 year old. This not for profit restaurant is a great concept ensuring anyone who is hungry can eat regardless of income and financial status. You can pay what you normally would, more, less or even volunteer for your meal. The food was good and is Organic, non-GMO, with vegetarian and gluten free options. Highly recommend we all support our fellow brothers and sisters and eat here."
~ Jeremy Howie, Google review
"The "pay what you can" restaurant model is vital to ensure locally sourced, nutrient dense, healthy meals are available to all regardless of their ability to pay. While national indicators tout economic recovery, that reality has escaped more than 40,000 people in Larimer County who struggle with food insecurity - those that don't know where their next meal is coming from. These individuals, families, and children deal with the harsh realities each day of not having adequate financial resources to meet their basic food needs. The FoCo Cafe provides nutritious meals in a restaurant setting to all individuals in a dignified manner. All people including business-people, city officials, teachers, students, and people with limited resources are encouraged to sit together and get to know each other as individuals thereby breaking down stereotypical images."
~ Rita McCusker, Community Outreach Manager, Hunger Free Colorado
"This place has been a lifesaver -- superb organic food with gluten-free options at a time when my resources are extremely limited. I'm deeply grateful for access to such good nutrition, served with joy, and obviously created with loving mindfulness."
~ Liz Tufte, Google review
"I teach a Sophomore-level course at CSU called "World Interdependence: Food and Population." Each Spring semester I have 80 to 90 students from all walks of life that come together in this course to learn about how the world's agricultural and food systems keep up with our burgeoning population and changing diets. The students have a term project requirement. As one option they are encouraged to volunteer, on a weekly basis, with a local food-assistance program in the northern Colorado region. In the past many have worked with the Food Bank of Larimer County or the Fort Collins Rescue Mission. This year, upon learning about the FoCo Café, no less than 11 students sought out Jeff and Kathleen and signed up to volunteer with the Café initiative. The students' reflections were not the kinds of reflections we usually get on course surveys after a typical lecture-style course at the university. It is only when students are engaged in opportunities of this sort-with organizations that are ready and able to bring them on board and put them to work within an existing network of volunteers and managers-that such living education can occur. The opportunities are significant, and my intention as a CSU professor will be to work with FoCo Café to continue creating inroads at CSU and invite my colleagues in other programs to take advantage of the excellent opportunity I see for the university in having such an innovative non-profit social enterprise with which to partner, for the benefit of our students and our local community."
~ Dr. Gregory D. Graff, Associate Professor, Agriculture and Resource Economics, Colorado State University
"As a member of CanDo, the FoCo Café truly embodies our goals of increasing the availability, affordability and consumption of healthy foods and ensuring equitable access to a healthy lifestyle.We applaud the Baumgardner's efforts to utilize unique community assets while leveraging the expertise and strengths of local individuals and organizations, really making this a true community endeavor."
~ Aubrey Hoover, Obesity Prevention Specialist,
CanDo - Coalition for Activity and Nutrition to Defeat Obesity
University of Colorado Health
"Hi! My husband and I ate at your cafe when we were homeless in Fort Collins. We have a home and jobs now and were very inspired by your business. Your cafe gave us the opportunity to interact with people who were not on the street and to feel "normal." Also, to be treated like a regular human. Your business is incredible. We are in Larry's home state of Kentucky now, and we want to create a business like yours. Do you have any tips for how I might get started? I have a lot of skills and education to utilize in what I imagine it takes to start a business. We are both working in the food industry right now. Any advice you can offer will be appreciated. And thanks for feeding us. God bless you!"
- Name removed for privacy purposes
I can hardly recommend a better local than the FoCo Cafe. Not only does it 100% support & indeed Feed our locals on a Pay as you Can or Pay it Forward method...it is Truly Amazing Food! They offer a wide variety of Vegan or Otherwise food selections 6 days a week and every single food is prepared with the utmost integrity. Go ahead Try it. You will recommend it too!
- Jim May, Google review
The soups and salads are delicious. The diversity amongst the atmosphere and the presence of very fine people of laughter and conversation. The meeting in suits - to the traveler passing through, homeless. I love the bad pipes player and other musicians through the years. Pay what you can, if you can pay more help someone with a free healthy meal. If you love foco cafe as much as I do. Please buy tokens give to someone less fortunate.
-Amie Lynn, Facebook
It almost seems impossible to capture my time at FOCO Cafe into words. The experiences I had there opened my heart up and touched my soul in ways I could not have imagined. Built and run by the community, FOCO Cafe is a true example of what it means having community come together to help and support one another. Also, the care, intent and preparation that goes into the food is far beyond what I have ever witnessed at any typical food establishment.
-Cassidy Eve, Facebook
Thought it was a set up when I was told this place let's you pay what you can for a complete meal, or volunteer your time ( if you are flat broke) for the food you get served. It is all local ingredients from a farm in southern Colorado. They have delightful and refreshing iced tea, and the coffee it's so good... It reminds you why you became addicted to it in the first place. You will leave there with a happy belly, happy taste buds, and happy/rested pockets.Until next time....
-Stephanie Moore, Google
My wife and I have adored this sweet and Soul-full cafe since it's inception. And we love how everything about it simply keeps getting better and better... the meals... staff and volunteers... how our community appreciates and embraces it, and more! Thank you, FOCO Cafe team! You all are the best!
-Robert Evans, Facebook
My biggest fear? Becoming a "bag lady." (That's what we called homeless women in the 1960s where I grew up.) As a kid, I was terrified of becoming one of those destitute people pushing a grocery cart full of bundles and bags down the street.Sometimes we attract that which we fear the most. A couple of years ago, it happened. I was fortunate: Instead of pushing a grocery cart, I rode a bicycle. Instead of plastic bags, I carried backpacks.
Once upon a time …
I was a productive member of the community - a homeowner in a long-term relationship, nurturing a butterfly garden in the front yard and a community sandbox in the back. I worked as a freelance graphic designer and rescued animals.
All of a sudden: I found myself halfway across the country, sleeping outside on a cold metal picnic table with fifty cents to my name. The table I chose as a bed happened to be outside FoCo Cafe. I shivered as I slept. The early-morning sunrise started to glow. Steven arrived to open the cafe. I had planned to disappear before anyone could see me, but I was too cold to wake up in time. So I awoke to Steven's gentle voice welcoming me in for a fresh cup of coffee. He didn't shoo me away as if I was a feral cat. He didn't call the cops. He didn't ignore me, and he didn't charge a dime for the most nourishing cuppa ever brewed. He treated me with compassion and respect as if I was a likable human being. And it was warm inside. Jeff was humming away in the kitchen, music was playing, and it was warm. It was warm. It was warm. They gave me food. I ate. Steven insisted on giving me his own breakfast that day: enough for extra to provide sustenance later. Now it's time to give back.
~ Liz Tufte, Blog