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Bikes peddle lunches downtown

Organization offers culinary training

Ian Tostenson calls a midday meal at Cafe 374 "the most socially responsible lunch in Vancouver."

Now Vancouverites unable to venture to the eatery at 374 Powell St. for breakfast or a sandwich can have a full lunch delivered to them in an environmentally conscious manner. HAVE Culinary Training Society, of which Tostenson is a director, recently hooked up with Shift Urban Cargo Delivery tricycles to create the Bites on Bikes business lunch delivery service. Downtown workers can support HAVE, a social enterprise that provides culinary training to youth and adults who cope with mental and physical disabilities, poverty, addiction and homelessness, by ordering a minimum of four lunches from Bites on Bikes online, by email or phone. A sandwich, piece of fruit, San Pellegrino drink and a cookie cost $12.

Money raised through the venture supports the training society. HAVE has trained more than 500 students and placed more than 75 per cent of them in jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry in the past five years. Tostenson, who is also president and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant Association, says graduates of the free eight-week, full-time program typically secure jobs as prep cooks and dishwashers.

Brad Mills, CEO of Mills Basics office sup-plies, and Tostenson continued the work of the Cooks Studio when that non-profit social enterprise failed five years ago after it lost its catering contract with a casino that fizzled.

Tostenson said HAVE has seen success because those who run it have great connections and the program caters to what students want. "What they want is a place where they can feel safe and they aren't judged, a place that can restore confidence and restore trust- and we try to provide that very nurturing environment," he said.

HAVE runs with a counsellor who helps students cope with their insecurities and get their hands on clothes for job interviews. Another staff person informs students of restaurant openings and assists them with resumes. It's a simple model that relies on little government funding. HAVE runs with the proceeds from the cafe, donations from foundations and monthly celebrity chef dinners held at the cafe that cost $100 for five courses and wine. Chef Alex Chen, who previously worked at the Beverly Hills Hotel, whipped up a previous dinner and this month's event, May 10, is sold out. Bites on Bikes delivers downtown and to city hall, one of its biggest customers. Shift, a worker co-operative, replaces delivery trucks with human-powered and electric assisted tricycles that can haul up to 500 pounds.

For more information, see bitesonbikes. com or

[email protected] Twitter: @Cheryl_Rossi