Sutherland Shire Council engages Civic Kitchen and Catering to provide meals

Civic employee Michael Stanton with mayor Steve Simpson and Cr Carol Provan. Picture: John Veage
Civic employee Michael Stanton with mayor Steve Simpson and Cr Carol Provan. Picture: John Veage

A partnership between Sutherland Shire Council and Civic Disability Services is helping to keep supported employees in work during the coronavirus pandemic.

The council has had a long-standing practice of providing a light, working dinner for councillors and staff before meetings of the full council or committees each Monday night.

Since May this year, Civic Kitchen and Catering has been delivering freshly cooked meals, which are served up by catering workers with disabilities.

The menu includes slow-cooked lamb shanks, herb-crusted barramundi and traditional fish and chips.

There are plans to move towards a more "summery" menu soon.

Civic's cafes in Sutherland Shire, Merrylands, Penrith and Shoalhaven were forced to close during the coronavirus lockdown and have been operating as takeaway only since June 1.

Michael Stanton with Civic's chief financial officer Mike Churchman. Picture: John Veage

Michael Stanton with Civic's chief financial officer Mike Churchman. Picture: John Veage

Sutherland Shire Council was one of the first organisations to engage the service.

Civic Disability Services chief executive Annie Doyle said COVID-19 restrictions had changed the way many restaurants and cafes did business.

"A home-delivery service provided a way for us to continue supported employment, especially through the temporary closure of our cafes at the height of the pandemic," she said.

"The arrangement with the council is an extension of this service, and so far, the response has been super positive.

"Of course, everything is done according to strict COVID-safe practices.

"Hopefully, once restrictions eased, we will be able to involve more supported employees in this opportunity."

Civic Kitchen and Catering provides supported employment to people with disabilities who may have struggled to enter mainstream employment in the past or who are building up their food preparation, barista and customer service skills to transition to a mainstream role in the hospitality industry in the future.

Michael Stanton, 22, of Menai, who has worked for Civic Kitchen and Catering for two years, said he was "really proud" to be part of the team catering to Sutherland Shire councillors.

Michael's mother Suzanne Stanton said catering to council was a "lovely new experience".

"Working at Civic, Michael gets to experience working in all parts of a hospitality business, delivering to customers, preparing meals and serving customers," she said.

"The partnership with the council has been really good because he gets to communicate with different people and he gets a buzz out of serving the mayor and councillors."

Mayor Cr Steve Simpson said the meals were "tremendous" and the Civic staff were "really friendly and helpful".

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