For Jenn Klassen and her staff who cook delicious soup for The Raw Carrot social enterprise, the pandemic has brought both storm clouds and a silver lining. Their already high hygiene standards have been increased further with each staff being screened before being let into the building, masking up while cooking, and chopping vegetables at separate tables in the basement of Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church where they operate. “We have always sanitized the living daylights out of everything,” says Jenn with a laugh, “and we continue to do so!”
Their greatest challenge, however, has not been making the soup; it’s been selling it. The major events that have been the biggest sellers—markets, vendor shows, Christmas shows—have all been cancelled due to the pandemic. Because of the lower sales, there have been reduced shifts for the workers. “These guys haven’t complained about the smaller paycheques they’ve been getting,” says Jenn. “[But] they miss being together and having snacks at break time and laughing and sharing and belonging. There is definitely a sense of stress about the possibility of illness, but they are careful. They are concerned for the world and for each other.”
Jenn reflects that there has been one unanticipated bright spot. “I think the most stunning thing I have heard these past few months from the kitchen team is that they are thrilled to be “essential workers.” In their lives, some have been mocked because of their “disAbilities,” or made to feel they aren’t good enough, smart enough, or have nothing to offer.”
But when essential workers were called back to work, “they stood tall and came in and trusted us to have the proper precautions in place to keep everyone safe,” recalls Jenn. “They were told that they are essential. Can you imagine what that message can do for someone? So yeah, we are still making healthy, tasty soup, but that’s just the by-product of what’s going on at the Kitchener Raw Carrot!”
If you want to support the Kitchener Raw Carrot team, there is an online store to order your delicious soups on these cold days. Soup orders are delivered every Tuesday. Jenn is currently looking for a volunteer driver to help with deliveries. If interested, please contact Jenn at firstname.lastname@example.org.