Halifax gluten-free coffee provides opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

A bakery in the north end of Halifax offers not only gluten-free food, but also opportunities for people who may have a hard time finding work.

The North End Baking Co. and Café hires people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“We are a social enterprise cafe staffed by adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who also work in our kitchen and cafe,” said Adrienne McCormick, bakery supervisor.

“So we are a completely gluten and nut free facility to embrace that allergy that tends to be more prominent in the community to create more inclusiveness in our employment, in our cafeteria and in the food we offer.”

According to the cafe’s website, recent studies have shown that people with Down syndrome can develop celiac disease or gluten sensitivity at higher rates than the general population, up to 16 out of 100 people.

Baking Co. joins Prescott Group participants with training in food preparation, baking, cashiering and other kitchen and food service responsibilities.

Prescott Group has been helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities find friendship, community and success in Halifax since 1962.

“It offers such a unique experience for our participants where they can gain those job skills in an environment they feel comfortable with and with people they feel comfortable with, and it gives them the encouragement that they can do it within the community.” said Charlene Kuhn, supervisor of community engagement and employment at the bakery.

“So that’s first-hand experience and bringing that to the workplace is meeting all of our goals.”

McCormick says that, for the most part, the bakery’s gluten-free menu is what tends to draw people in, initially.

“And then it doubles as a great pleasure to know who’s behind us and what our goal is here,” he said.

The Baking Co. not only offers in-store treats, but also has a catering option.

“So anything from those boxes of muffins and cookies, to charcuterie boards, sandwiches and soups. We also do lunch a couple days a week, so we have a wide variety of foods,” McCormick said.

Kuhn says it’s moving not only to give people jobs, but also to see them achieve goals.

“So once they start here at the cafe and get that job training, and learn the iPad and all the different skills that come with it, it just creates a lot more opportunities for them,” he said. .

“We’re extremely fortunate to have a really diverse and skilled team here,” McCormick said. “Having an inclusive team on staff really adds to the overall experience for everyone involved.”

The cafe, located at 3430 Prescott Street, is open from 8:30 am to noon on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm on Thursdays and Fridays.

“And on the mornings that we’re open, we also offer free coffee and cookies to seniors in our community,” McCormick said.

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