Ooey, gooey cinnamon rolls to welcome a new neighbor to the hood. Piles of buttery, chewy (reduced sugar!) cookies for your lonely elderly neighbor. Birthday cake to let your friend know you remember and care. Hand-crafted, decadently rich baked goods practically scream, I love you more than the three cups of sugar and the pound of unsalted butter coursing through my slowly constricting arteries!
But some bakeries take it a step further. They are creating opportunities for growth beyond the waistline. They are "Baking Opportunities." In this posting mini series, we'll focus on bakeries with a conscience and what they're doing for our communities across America.*
So let's dig in with Food for Good Thought!
Food for Good Thought was founded in 2008. We began baking with individuals with autism in subleased kitchens, churches and the OSU Food Industries Center at The Ohio State University. We are now in our own space at 4185 North High Street in Clintonville, OH.
Who was your inspiration?
The concept of Food for Good Thought emerged while Dr. Audrey Todd was considering the probable limited future employment opportunities for her nonverbal son with autism. Following one of her son’s interests, cooking and baking became skills that her son was able to learn. Before her son developed an interest in cooking and baking, he was placed on a gluten-free diet due to significant digestive problems; as a result, some problematic neurological behaviors also diminished in intensity. From this experience, Dr. Todd created a company that provides supported employment and gluten-free foods to individuals with autism as well as other consumers with dietary sensitivities.
Who do you serve and what training do you provide?
We serve individuals on the autism spectrum who are approaching adulthood or in adulthood. (For additional info on autism, check out Autism Speaks.) Participants can be trained in a wide range of skills, including baking specific (or all) products, cleaning, dish washing, building maintenance, labeling, computer work and packaging. We also provide vocational rehabilitation for those who wish to work outside of the bakery in the larger community.
What keeps people coming back for more?
All baked goods in our store are Gluten Free and people keep coming back, not only because it is good, but a lot of customers like to support our employees and mission. We have been told a number of times we “have the best Gluten Free Pecan Pie ever” and our cakes are continuously ordered for special occasions.
Note: Photos in this post are property of Food for Good Thought and are found on their website or facebook.
*Know someone "Baking Opportunities" in your community; please let us know!