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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

The Lancaster Food Company: Empowering the Community to Eat Better For Good

Jun 26, 2015 02:22PM ● By Gisele Siebold

Charlie Crystle, co-founder and CEO of The Lancaster Food Company, was looking to create a business that would meet the demand for jobs in Lancaster by hiring people who were willing to learn skills and work hard, and was passionate about ensuring that the employees could share in the success of the business. His lifelong friendship with Craig Lauer, co-founder and chief product officer, along with Lauer’s cooking talent and love of food, led them to establish The Lancaster Food Company in 2014, as a way to address poverty through prosperity and fair compensation.

Inspiration came from learning about the mission statement and open hiring policy of Greyston Bakery, in Yonkers, New York. Crystle recalls hearing Julius Walls, Jr., CEO of Greyston Bakery, speak at a conference for entrepreneurs in 2003, and reminisces, “During Walls’ presentation, I distinctly remember him saying, ‘We don’t hire people to bake brownies. We bake brownies to hire people.’ This stuck with me and motivated me to think about starting a new and different kind of company in my hometown.”

When Crystle and Lauer got together, the conversation would inevitably turn to economic and social justice. After co-founding GiftWorks—fundraising software—and founding and leading the software company Chilisoft, Crystle was ready to make an entrepreneurial change, and Lauer said that he was baking bread at home and wanted to start a food company. Dedicated to agricultural issues, the local food movement, wholesome food and serving the community, the idea for The Lancaster Food Company took shape.

The mission of The Lancaster Food Company is to make extraordinary food, source from organic farmers as close to home as possible and hire people out of poverty into thriving-wage jobs. Due to high demand for fair-paying jobs, the company frequently receives applications, and hires one or two people each month. Employees earn good wages while working in the city of Lancaster, and 30 percent of the company is set aside for employee stock options. Crystle states, “The more that people buy our food, the more people we can hire, so we’re working hard to add stores and restaurants as customers so we can hire more people.”

Living in an area where fresh organic produce thrives, and farm after farm line the curving roads, The Lancaster Food Company wants to share the benefits of local organic choices of Lancaster and Pennsylvania certified organic ingredients. The company produces delicious, USDA certified organic, GMO-free food, while making a positive impact on the community. Ingredients are sourced from the finest, most sustainable organic producers, farmers and area businesses. Using ingredients such as USDA certified organic Pennsylvania maple sugar and organic apple cider, a growing selection of tasty foods is produced with tremendous care and attention.

The Lancaster facility produces fresh sliced sandwich breads and spreads five to six days a week, which are delivered to local grocers and natural food stores. Sandwich breads include: Soft White, 100 percent Whole Wheat, Sprouted Multigrain and Sandwich Rye. Made in a peanut-free facility, maple syrup and organic spreads—Sunflower Seed with Pennsylvania Maple Sugar, Sunflower Seed with Sea Salt and Sunflower Seed Three Nut Butter with Hazelnuts, Cashews and Almonds—complement a range of foods and recipes.

“Our ingredients tell the story: wholesome, sustainable, delicious and free from things that can harm your family and other living things in our world. The Lancaster Food Company is committed to making healthful, wholesome organic food. And we’re the only certified organic food company in Lancaster,” enthuses Crystle.

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Gisele Siebold is a contributing writer to Natural Awakenings magazine. Connect at [email protected]

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