April 7, 2011: Kracking Into the Job Market. Local Catering Program Helps With Job Skills.
Kracking Into the Job Market.
Local Catering Program Helps With Job Skills.
By Kelly Serjeantson.
There’s a little-known secret called Krackers Katering, located at 22 O’Meara Street, in Hintonburg. As a lover of all things food-related, I am always on the look out for new tastes in my ’hood. I thought I knew all the food purveyors around me, but I was recently surprised to learn that I was wrong.
This non-profit social enterprise has been under the umbrella of The Causeway Work Centre since 1999. Krackers Katering provides fresh, tasty breakfasts, break snacks and lunches to Ottawa businesses, as well as private parties. What makes this catering company unique is the staff, all former clients of Causeway. They have come here for various reasons: they have a disability, have been homeless or are new to our country, lack necessary skills or want to learn a new skill. Krackers Katering trains all employees, who work on a part time basis, giving them the skills needed to slice, dice and bake their way to a successful career in food preparation.
Every employee is given the opportunity to work in a way that suits their needs; time allotted for medical appointments, a place to talk when they feel overwhelmed and the freedom to be themselves and not hide from their disabilities. That freedom affords them the confidence to contribute to their community in a meaningful way—a feeling we all desire.
Employee Stephanie Sizer, a Stirling Avenue resident, credits Krackers for giving her the confidence to get back in to the workforce after dealing with some personal issues. She began as a volunteer, but quickly realized her desire to get in the kitchen and learn some new skills. She has since gone on to complete the Culinary and Pastry programs at Algonquin College, setting her up for a successful future in the food industry. When asked how working at Krackers had changed her life, she commented that it was difficult to put into words the feeling of walking in to work and loving everything about it: the people, the food, the sense of belonging.
While Krackers Katering benefits their employees, it also helps the greater community in many ways. They are funded in part by the United Way, but rely on the revenue from their enterprise to give back to the community. Last year, more than $6,500 was raised by Krackers Katering during the United Way Campaign.
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They support other charitable organizations such as New Moon Rabbit Rescue, Ottawa Humane Society’s Wiggle Waggle Walkathon and Somerset West’s A Place to Be drop-in centre. With an “I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine” attitude, Krackers partners with local businesses who provide referrals, supplies and food items.
I was also impressed by the environmental initiatives that Krackers has in place, making their company as green as can be. Eco-friendly, biodegradable cutlery, cups and plates are used, and the vermiculture project run at the Centre takes care of the compostable waste from the kitchen.
Living with a disability, physical or mental, is not an easy road. Often we forget that despite these barriers, everyone deserves a chance at independence, self-sufficiency and happiness in their work. Krackers Katering offers that opportunity to those who want it, and offers the rest of us a delicious, worry-free service. How lucky are we to have them in our midst?
To support this initiative or to place an order, go to www.krackerskatering.org .
Photo Caption: Krackers Katering provides fresh, tasty breakfasts, break snacks and lunches to Ottawa businesses, as well as private parties. It also trains employees who are former Causeway clients. They work on a part time basis, learning the skills needed to slice, dice and bake their way to a successful career in food preparation. Photo by Kelly Serjeantson.