Glance above the counter at the Clintonville bakery Food for Good Thought, and it’s right there, printed in red. In 2018, the bakery’s customers tipped $653. These above-and-beyond incremental dollars provided more than 70 hours of paid employment to the individuals with disabilities, whose pictures hang on the opposite wall. But those numbers are now out-of-date. In 2019, tips more than doubled, reaching $1,350 and directly supporting 146 hours of work by people with disabilities.
In the decade since its founding, the bakery and its affiliated nonprofit have enjoyed meaningful growth. After getting its start in a church basement and employing two people on the autism spectrum for an hour each week, Sarah Duplessis, director of FFGT, says she never anticipated what’s transpired since. The bakery now employs 10 individuals with disabilities, covering their wages entirely through sales of their gluten-free desserts. And the bakery, Duplessis explains, is the “smallest program we have.”
So what is FFFGT other than a bakery? It’s a supportive-service provider, internship organizer, and one-stop shop for individuals with disabilities looking to enter the workforce. The organization serves nearly 250 clients every year, with a growing focus on helping young adults achieve independence.
Located at Ohio Dominican University, FFGT’s EveryBody Works transition program is unique in guiding teenagers with disabilities through college classes and internships. After the first semester, Duplessis checks in with students and their families. At these meetings, parents testify to the tremendous impact that FFGT is having on their children—giving them a purpose, teaching them independence, and changing their lives. But the benefit isn’t just for the students. Duplessis says it’s common for new business partners to sing the praises of their employees with disabilities. FFGT opens their eyes to the impact of a motivated and uniquely capable workforce.