ABOUT US

Social Crust Cafe & Catering was launched in October of 2014 (formerly known as Cafe 335) as a social enterprise of Coast Mental Health. In partnership with Coast’s Culinary Skills Training Program, we provide a safe space for young adults with barriers to employment the opportunities to gain commercial kitchen experience, learn soft skills, and enter the workforce in a working café. 

 

The CMH Culinary Skills Training Program provides hands-on training to at-risk young adults recovering from mental health illness and other barriers. The program is taught by Red Seal Certified Chef instructors and the curriculum covers four months of not only cooking theory and techniques, but also essential life skills. Students then enter practicum work experience, working alongside cafe support staff, which includes industry experienced professionals and program alumni. 

 

After the practicum and upon graduation, students are given the opportunity to apply for work at the cafe for positions ranging from prep cooks, line cooks, stewards and cashiers. Once employed by the cafe, the youth receive further support from the Cafe Training Program in developing their soft skills such as communication, teamwork, time management, and organizational skills -- all essential skills that set them up to be independent, employment ready, and successful in transitioning to further opportunities.

 

Our mission is to empower youth and instill in them the confidence to not just overcome their barriers, but to also improve on their quality of life. We do this by providing food safe and restaurant skills training, supportive employment, and mentorship tailored to each individual. We don’t break the stigma of mental health for our youth, it’s the youth that break the stigma for us.

SAM'S STORY

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Sam Axelson first learned about Coast’s Culinary Skills Training program from a social worker who knew he enjoyed cooking. When he started class, Sam says “I just really loved the fact that I’d be able to cook my heart out without anybody holding me back.”

 

He quickly discovered the boost to his well-being that came with the program. “The program has so much to offer beyond cooking,” he reflects. “The teachers: all of them are next level teachers. Not only do they teach well, but the way that they show their care for their students made me want to show up every single day. And it also made me want to cook more.”

 

At the start of his studies, Sam lacked the confidence to prepare a meal even for himself. With support, Sam learned to trust himself and his skills. Today, he is head produce manager at a boutique grocery store. Your generosity provides supportive training programs for young people like Sam so they can learn how to manage their symptoms in a work environment, grow their confidence, and find meaningful work that supports their recovery.

COAST MENTAL HEALTH'S
ANNUAL REPORT 2021 - 2022

CREATIVITY ALLOWS SOCIAL CRUST CAFÉ TO SURVIVE THE PANDEMIC
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The Culinary Skills Program provides youth recovering from mental illness or with other barriers to employment with training, coaching, and work experience in Coast’s Social Crust Café, so that they can enter the labour force or continue further culinary schooling.

The Program is only made available because of generous donors to Coast Mental Health Foundation. Many graduates from the Program go on to work at the Café. “Because of the pandemic the Culinary Program needed to change direction. We stayed connected with the students who were just finishing their training by Zoom, offering home-cooking challenges,” said Adriana. “They came back in June for a few months for their work practicums. It was an immediate work experience for them as we couldn’t offer classroom-style training.” Today, the Café employs five workers, three part-time and two full-time.

Kelsey started working there in July 2021. “My case worker told me about the Café, and it really boosted my confidence when I was hired,” she said. “It gives me a sense of community and it’s a place where I can learn and grow. It gives me purpose. It also gives me a chance to work on my mental health. I have complex PTSD and anxiety, so being around people can be hard. But I know in the Café I’m in a safe place. This is the longest I’ve ever worked at a job.” The future looks bright. Chef Margaret is planning a series of Culinary Summer Training sessions and she and Adriana are excited about growing the Café social enterprise. They are also considering attending farmers’ markets and relaunching Guest Chef Nights once they rebuild the team. “Things are still a bit bare bones, but the Café has a solid customer base that is aligned with our vision,” said Director of Community Services Tracy Rapanos. “These have been the Café’s most challenging years and it’s amazing that we could pivot so quickly,” added Deborah Maynard, who chairs Coast’s Social Enterprise’s Board of Directors. “It’s a testament to the creativity and dedication of Coast staff and clients.”