Healthy, fresh, locally made meals, delivered to your door. Sounds great doesn't it? Add engaging at-risk youth in the development of culinary skills and you have a social-enterprise positively impacting the community. FoodWorks is just that, a local social enterprise whose participants are trained and supervised by a world-class chef and whose proceeds go toward supporting Operation Come Home’s mission of preventing homeless youth from becoming homeless adults.
Tell us about FoodWorks. What does the social enterprise do?
FoodWorks is a catering and meal delivery service that provides job training opportunities to at-risk and homeless youth. Our customers benefit from a chef prepared, high quality, from-scratch meal that’s not only delicious, but packed with protein & vitamins. Our participating youth, who are trained and supervised by world-class chef Bruce Wood, gain real world cooking skills that they can translate into a fulfilling culinary career. All FoodWorks’ proceeds go to support of OperationComeHome’s mission of preventing homeless youth from becoming homeless adults
How does the program work?
FoodWorks hires youth for a 3-6 month period offering them training in the food industry under the supervision of a professional chef. During this time, youth are also paired with a social support worker to address personal barriers in their lives such as housing or addiction concerns. After their placement is completed, participants are supported in finding a job in the community that they are now better equipped to maintain.
What was the inspiration behind creating the social enterprise? Why does it exist?
The inspiration came from a social enterprise in Montreal called "Santropol Roulant". This group works largely with volunteers to create and deliver meals to seniors in the Montreal area. Foodworks began in 2016 with the original goal of bridging the gap between youth and seniors in Ottawa through a meal delivery service. Since then, the program has grown and evolved to better suit Ottawa's needs as a meal delivery program open to all residents as well as offering a catering service.
What inspires you and your team to do the work you do?
The team is constantly inspired by the youth who work in and succeed through the program.There are countless participants who have been given opportunities through FoodWorks that they didn't even think was available and achievable to them. Their commitment and love for the program is what keeps our team going and moving forward.
What are some of the lessons you've learned along the way?
Flexibility and resourcefulness are two of the most important abilities all team members need to have.
You must make time for the social support component so that participants are willing and able to maintain their roles in the social enterprise. And specifically for FoodWorks;
You need a professional chef if you want to be able to provide a truly high-quality product.
What's your vision moving forward?
We would love to continue growing the catering component of FoodWorks and eventually own our own commercial kitchen.
What makes you most proud?
The youth in the program make us most proud. They are so happy to be a part of the program and want to share with others how FoodWorks has helped them along their journey. This in itself is reward enough for the our team.
Learn more about FoodWorks.