Earlier this week I was on a youth worker Facebook group and someone asked about a student run snack bar and cafe. I thought about how we have run one and some of the benefits that have come out of it. I thought I’d share a few:

1. It’s Relational
Students love food, drinks and friends. A snack bar allows them to experience them all together. We ran ours during our wednesday night sessions and it was great. It also created a relational time in that I would take students with me on Costco runs to stock it up. They could pick out their drinks and snacks, we would eat samples then I would buy lunch or ice cream. Great opportunity to talk and have a good time together

2. It Teaches Integrity and Trust
We run our snacks by the honor system. I put out a container and they put their money in. If at the end of the snacks we last purchased we didn’t make a proportionate profit, the snack bar would end. Our items average out to be about 50 cents an item and we ask for $1. I would add it up before we would head to Costco and the amazing thing is we were always pretty close. We might be off here or there but sometimes we would even end up with too much money. The students would police themselves and it was a good opportunity to give them this ownership of our ministry.

3. It teaches Sharing
In times when we have had students show up with a friend, often the friend doesn’t know there is a snack bar and has no money. That is when someone offers to buy the new student something. It creates this awesome camaraderie when they share what they have (money) or sometimes their snacks. I have seen students who have had stuff purchased for them come back. I never had to push my students to do this, they just began to do it themselves, and out if it has come friendships which have lasted.

I’ll be honest running our Snack Bar has some costs: Money to purchase it, time to get the snacks and set it up every week. But the benefits to me far outweigh the costs.

What are some awesome stories you have of running snack bars or cafes?

Kyle Corbin has been serving youth as a volunteer or pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: kylecorbin.blogspot.com or Twitter: @CorbinKyle