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How The Food Service Industry Is Helping Recovery Alumni

Graduating from a recovery program is an exhilarating experience. But, truth be told, there are still many more hurdles to overcome once you begin integrating yourself back into the work force. Sadly, many corporate organizations may shun former addicts; particularly if their old references deem them unreliable because of their past dependencies. The food service industry, however, appears to be doing just the opposite; offering opportunities that accommodate those who have recently completed treatment.

Several articles have recently come out, highlighting restaurants that are openly embracing recovering servers. And the best part about these stories is that the businesses are actually encouraging a healthier lifestyle; offering them balanced “green” meals as part of their employee package.

West Virginia-based Cafe Appalachia has made some of the biggest headlines for this type of work. The popular diner (which features locally-sourced farm fresh entrees) employs multiple former addicts. It even goes so far as to accommodate recovery schedules, allowing for workers to attend all alumni meetings necessary for their program.

Autumn McCraw is a waitress at Cafe Appalachia and battled some serious dependencies herself. As she told NPR, getting a job opportunity at this restaurant literally turned her life around.

“As addicts in society we’re shunned,” McCraw told the site. “To know that the community is supporting me and having my back is such an essential part of my recovery.”

She also emphasized the fact that many other Appalachia employees have successfully gone through treatment; which offers an incredible support system if temptations were ever to arise.

“Being part of a team that understands what addiction means and can support me has been a game-changer,” she added. “If I’m struggling, if it happens to be one of those days, you know, I have a whole support system here that understands.”

Several restaurants are also opening their employment doors to former addicts who may be getting released from prison. Finding work after a drug incarceration can also be incredibly difficult, but several food service organizations are stepping up to the plate.

A notable one in our home state of California is Homeboy Industries, which has been a tremendously popular destination for salsa, baked goods and tortilla strips. All of their food is prepared by former inmates (many who overcame addiction), giving them a second chance to thrive and earn a living.

We, for one, applaud all of these orgs for lending a helping hand to the cause. Hopefully more businesses will take note and help de-stigmatize the negative connotations of addiction.