People don’t often think about those with intellectual disabilities. The reality is that people with intellectual disabilities sometimes have a hard time finding their place in society. Finding work can be a real challenge if you have no experience and for those with intellectual disabilities, it’s extra hard finding an employer willing to give them a chance.
Lisa Vezeau-Allen, the founder of Grocers 4 Good says, “Even just to get a coop placement is very difficult.”
Grocers 4 Good is looking to change that by providing a place where people with intellectual disabilities can find employment.
Lisa says those involved with the store are getting work experience and at the same time learning valuable life skills. Things like double-checking due dates on food and making a checklist to stay on task. One employee finds themself cleaning more frequently at home after spending some time cleaning the store. These transferable life skills make Grocers 4 Good more than just a place to get work experience and make some money.
At the same time, intellectually disabled people often work jobs that don’t pay as much, which means they’re on a budget when it comes to expenses. Grocers 4 Good makes an effort to keep prices on healthy foods as low as possible so anybody can have a healthy diet. Even making subtle changes to the way the food is priced is meant to help.
Lisa explains, “Everything is priced per piece. We find that this is easier for people on a limited income rather than selling by weight. So they know if they buy three tomatoes, it’s easy to figure out how much that will cost.”
Operating a social enterprise can be a difficult task. Lisa had to take into account what kind of business could be sustainable in her community, as well as which business model would provide various opportunities for different people at different skill levels.
In the first year of being in business, Grocers 4 Good has already found work elsewhere for three individuals. Even in a pandemic, the store has proven itself to have a positive impact on the community. They are providing employers with capable workers and springboarding individuals with intellectual disabilities into the workforce. Lisa has been happy with the success of Grocers 4 Good and, in the future, plans to open more stores in different communities throughout Ontario.