Social Work Cafe Review

Social work cafe debuts on campus, partners with community

Originally published in Student Life.

This summer, the University finished the construction of the Brown School of Social Work’s Hillman Hall and, along with it, the new Grounds for Change cafe. Though there are many eateries on and near campus, Grounds for Change sets itself apart because of its isolated location and diverse daily selection of foods.

In the times that I’ve strolled through Grounds for Change, the menus are completely different. The cafe partners with local restaurants to bring exposure to places otherwise unknown to students and build the community. They bring in desserts, foreign foods, vegan foods—on the day I went, they had bars from Natalie’s Cakes and More lined up along the counter and refrigerated udon bowls from Wasabi Sushi. In addition to this altruistic movement, they also sport their drinks from an assortment of fair trade outlets, and the coffee and expresso is from Chronicle Coffee, which is owned by a Washington University alumnus.

Beyond community items, the cafe also offers a variety of in-house foods. Though these run out quickly—my first-choice panini of the day each time is sold out—there are enough options that I’ve never been dissatisfied. In my most recent time there, I tried the veggie muffaletta, which consisted of assorted chopped veggies and a sautee that made all the ingredients meld together—it was delicious. On the menu also was a Native American special of carbonada criolla, which looked equally as good.

After the checkout, there’s a selection of single-serve goodies, much like Cherry Tree Cafe and Cafe Bergson. In it was an assortment of cookies, scones, muffins, danishes and more—though, after lunch hour, the selection was significantly reduced.

Despite being just a few months old, Hillman Hall is already filled during lunch hours with undergraduates, graduates and community members alike. With a variety of seating, from indoor seats with tables to one-person couches to grassy plains and bench edges outside, finding a place to sit down and eat is not as difficult in Hillman as it sometimes is in the Danforth University Center or Bear’s Den. The outside seating in particular has attracted many undergrads; some people even had a picnic lunch on the grass directly outside.

Because of its proximity to Brookings Quadrangle, the social work school and the Sam Fox School, Grounds for Change unites a larger array of Washington University people than most eateries on and around campus do. While there, I saw some business professionals discussing a PowerPoint over lunch as well as young undergraduates relaxing on the lawn with a drink in between classes.

Overlooking the occasional shortages of menu items, Grounds for Change is a great addition to both Wash. U. Dining Services and the Clayton community as a whole. It seems that the community-building efforts and spotlights of under-acknowledged ethnic foods will really be grounds for change—and I would expect no less innovation and deliciousness from Wash. U.’s school of social work.