Editor’s Note: The following is a guest contribution from The Floured Apron.

The Floured Apron is a non-profit based in the North Shore area of Chicago whose mission is to empower women from underserved communities in Chicago with the training, knowledge, and mentoring to forge a new and more economically-secure career path.

Our objectives are to: 1) Provide the tools and support necessary for motivated, capable low-income women from underserved Chicago communities to believe in the possibility of their own potential; 2) Empower our students with the training and skill development necessary for entry into culinary industry employment; and 3) Increase the economic stability of our graduates and that of their family through culinary industry job placement.

We are committed to “sweetening life’s possibilities” for our students and their families, and help manifest those possibilities in our uniquely welcoming, enriching, and supportive bakery environment. Our job training and placement program prepares our students to make meaningful life changes, thereby increasing economic security and stability for themselves and their families. As one graduate recently shared, “This program has taught me much more than I expected…and has brought joy back into my life.” We know that by working collaboratively in the community, and in concert with our like-minded partners, our students will have a greater chance of success.

Organic Valley sponsors our program by donating dairy products for use in the production of our small-batch, from-scratch products. Our production days offer our students the opportunity to experience what working in the food industry might be like.  Our philosophy regarding our products mimics our new partner – produce products made from scratch using high-quality ingredients that you can pronounce.  We never take short-cuts and believe our customers value our high standards and can now taste the difference in our products.  Utilizing Organic Valley products means our cookies taste richer, our frostings more decadent and we are confident our baked goods are free from harmful hormones and pesticides.  Additionally, our production costs have decreased so we are able to provide more support services to our students including weekly counseling sessions and a brand-new WiFi-enabled computer lab for resume writing and job searches.

Our partnership with Organic Valley demonstrates they are not only dedicated to providing high-quality organic dairy products, changing the way Americans think about food, and being a good neighbor, but also willing to invest in changing lives. They have certainly sweetened life’s possibilities for the students in our program.  Thank you, Organic Valley, for being such a key ingredient in our success.

Learn more at: theflouredapron.org