Cheers erupted in the YOU Made It Cafe as executive chef Ricardo Cavaco cut a red ribbon to launch of a collaboration between two London charitable organizations.
The two — Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU), and Meals on Wheels London — are teaming up to deliver healthful meals to London seniors and adults with disabilities. The effort brings together young and old.
“This supports the sustainability of two not-for-profit organizations,” YOU executive director Steve Cordes said.
The agency provides training, employment and services to at-risk teens.
Some youth work in the YOU Made It Cafe on the ground floor of the agency’s headquarters at York and Richmond streets, preparing and serving breakfast and lunch to customers.
The partnership between Meals on Wheels and YOU makes for a busier kitchen.
YOU staff prepare 250 meals a day from 31 recipes, Cordes said.
“The youth benefit from the repetitive process and they can learn quickly.”
They provide various healthful meals, from low-sodium options to easy-to-digest food, to give seniors a high-quality experience, he added.
Lois Holden, YOU’s manager of enterprise services, said the agency has 13-week training periods and at the end of program youth may be offered jobs.
“We see an amazing transformation. When they start, they are quiet and non-verbal. But when they reach the halfway point, they are standing straighter and have more confidence.”
The contract between the two organizations is an enriching experience for the youth and seniors, with benefits to both, officials say.
“This is one example of where our dream comes true,” Cordes said.