Dylan Alcott’s newest venture serves up fresh food and jobs for people with disability
19 November 2020 at 8:19 am
Alcott says he wants Able Foods to make people with disability feel valued
Most of Dylan Alcott OAM’s life has been spent in a wheelchair. While that hasn’t stopped the Paralympic gold medalist from achieving anything he’s put his mind to, accessing, preparing, and cooking fresh and healthy meals is one thing that’s never been easy.
“You end up eating a lot of takeaway… or eating frozen meals because it’s easier, and doing that in the long term isn’t great for you or your wallet,” Alcott told Pro Bono News.
It’s something he’s hoping to find a solution for through his new for-purpose venture Able Foods.
Launched on Wednesday, the ready-made meal service is catered to people on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, providing over 30 fresh meal options such as lamb korma, chicken pad thai, and pumpkin and kale risotto, with inclusive options such as remoulded texture modified meals and braille stickers.
For eligible NDIS participants the price of a meal is around $3, with the cost of preparation and delivery covered by the NDIS.
For people with disability, by people with disability
Alcott said that because the meals were exclusively for people with disability, the business was run by people with disability – from top to bottom.
“The person who operates our phone centre, Ashley, has a disability, our head of marketing and PR, Madi, has a disability,” he said.
“And that means we know what people with disability need on the other end of the phone, but also in terms of accessible products.”
It follows Alcott’s 2019 “Remove The Barrier” campaign, which he launched to encourage businesses around Australia to commit to hiring people with disability.
He said that even though one in five Australians have a disability, only 62 per cent of them can find a job. This is despite the fact people with disability are 90 per cent more likely to be equal to, or more productive than their able-bodied counterparts, display lower levels of absenteeism, and have a higher retention rate.
“I just thought, stuff it, I’m going to just employ people with disabilities top to bottom and show how good they can be within a workplace,” Alcott said.
“We’re not doing this for CSR and we’re not doing it to do the right thing. We’re doing it because people with disabilities are bloody good employees.”
The enterprise’s profits will go back into supporting the running of the business, as well as the Dylan Alcott Foundation, which assists young Australians with disability to achieve their dreams.
“We’ve currently got a young woman in an electric wheelchair going through uni to become an access consultant, which means she can make environments more accessible for people like her,” Alcott said.
“Able Foods will assist young Australians with disability through grants, to gain confidence, fulfil their potential and achieve their dreams, just as I’ve been able to do.”
There are also plans to launch a fast-moving consumer goods line and apply for B Corp certification in 2021, but Alcott said the first priorities will be delivering a great product to improve the lives of people with disabilities, and inspiring other businesses to copy their model.
“It’s our little secret because we know how great people with a disability can be as workers. But it’s not my secret to keep, I want everybody to do it,” he said.
“I want to look back and see everybody hiring someone with a disability because that’s the way it should be.”
Check out Able Foods here.