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King’s cafe launches token program

Pay-it-forward program helps the Galley be more accessible

A pay-it-forward program was launched at the University of King’s College student-run cafe, the Galley. 

The program, launched Oct. 15, encourages customers buy tokens, for $2.25, that are then put into a jar. This allows anyone to redeem one for a free beverage. 

“The fact is that sometimes it is really hard to buy yourself even just a coffee,” says Em Grisdale, the Galley’s manager. “It just makes it a more accessible space because that is our goal. Our goal is to serve students and give them what they need.” 

Since the program started, it’s seen a positive reaction. 

At first, 30 tokens were available for purchase. In the first week, almost all of them were in the jar. 

“It’s been a heartwarming thing to see,” Grisdale says. “It’s just nice to be able to see the community that exists at King’s, just how people care about each other.” 

How it started 

Last January, the Nook on Gottingen Street launched a food token program where customers can buy tokens for $2 or $5. With the $2 token, a customer can get a coffee and a bagel. With the $5 one, they can get a small meal, like a soup or a sandwich. 

The Galley’s program was “very much inspired by the Nook,” says JM Nsengiyumva, the King’s Student Union hospitality coordinator. 

“It just made a lot of sense for us, as a business and as a fixture of the student community at King’s, to offer that,” he says, “to make that available to students who would be able to make use of the program, but then also, to allow people to help out in a way, to support their own peers. 

“It just seemed like a no brainer.” 

Accessibility has always been a part of the Galley’s mandate. Owned and operated by students, the cafe started out of a labour dispute between the King’s Student Union and the university’s administration. 

Breaking the stigma 

While tokens have been selling, not many have been redeemed. 

Grisdale thinks it’s because of the stigma and shame associated with using these types of programs. She says the distance between the employee and the customer’s personal life makes using the program challenging. 

“Hopefully, students using the tokens and redeeming [them] will pick up in time,” Grisdale says, “but I think for now it’s just a matter of doing work to tackle the stigma associated with using programs like these. Hopefully, once that work becomes more apparent, more students will start using it and feel comfortable using it.” 

The program, launched Oct. 15, encourages customers buy tokens, for $2.25, that are then put into a jar. This allows anyone to redeem one for a free beverage. 

“The fact is that sometimes it is really hard to buy yourself even just a coffee,” says Em Grisdale, the Galley’s manager. “It just makes it a more accessible space because that is our goal. Our goal is to serve students and give them what they need.” 

Since the program started, it’s seen a positive reaction. 

At first, 30 tokens were available for purchase. In the first week, almost all of them were in the jar. 

“It’s been a heartwarming thing to see,” Grisdale says. “It’s just nice to be able to see the community that exists at King’s, just how people care about each other.” 

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