From the mountains of the Chanchamayo province in Peru, fair-trade coffee beans made their way to Java Junction to be sold by Mennonite youth groups around the United States.The cost of attending conventions can be burdensome, so this past year, a Goshen College sponsored fundraiser, Menno’s Best Coffee, helped cover partial costs for 55 youth groups to attend Mennonite Church USA’s national convention. The fundraiser also collected money for the global ministries of Mennonite Mission Network and Mennonite Central Committee.
According to the Menno’s Best Coffee webpage, the money received by Mennonite Mission Network went to Top of the World Coffee, an organization in Kathmandu, Nepal that uses organically grown coffee as a way to bring people together and create peace between people of different faiths and cultures.
Mennonite Central Committee used the money to help support Tumaini Brooks Centre in Kiambu, Kenya. Tumaini is a day school that serves to help prevent “child labor, early teen pregnancy and crime” in an area with plenty of coffee plantations that employ migrant laborers.
The fundraiser began on November 11, 2014 and ended with convention in Kansas City, Missouri on July 16, 2015. At $12 a bag, 5,331 total bags were sold. $5 from every purchased bag went to the youth groups, with $1 being split between MMN and MCC for their specific coffee-related projects. The remaining $6 went to “pay fair prices for the coffee beans, shipping, roasting, packaging and other expenses.” $26,695 was raised for the participating youth groups and $5,331 was raised for MCC and MMN.
Menno’s Best Coffee was led by GC’s director of communications and marketing, Jodi Beyeler, executive assistant in the office of the president, Kathleen Yoder, and former GC admissions counselor, Hans Weaver. The GC admissions office and the planning group for GC’s presence at the Mennonite Convention also helped out with the fundraiser.
Like Weaver, numerous Goshen College students who chose to do their Study-Service Terms in Peru have been able to work with Highland Coffee in La Merced, Junin, Peru, which is where Menno’s Best Coffee began. This company takes organic coffee beans that are produced by small-scale farmers in the area and sells them at fair-trade prices. These motivated GC students have helped tighten Goshen College’s connection to this region and made Menno’s Best Coffee possible.
Out of the 55 youth groups, five from the Goshen area participated in the fundraiser. The College Mennonite Church and Hesston (Kansas) Mennonite Church youth groups sold the most bags.
Weaver said that “there are no plans as of this point and time to repeat the fundraiser.”