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Rocky Mountain NDIA

Chapter News:

Our July Caterer Is On A Mission

09 Jul 24

by Clay Turner

NDIA-RMC Communications Chair


On Thursday, 17 July 2024, Rocky Mountain NDIA and Falzarano Chapter of the Space Force Association will stage a Small Business Social at the Space Foundation’s newly expanded Discovery Center. Attendees will be some of the first to tour the 3,000 sq. ft. of new exhibits and interactive labs that opened to the public on 01 Jun 2024. 

Attendees will get to sample savory fare from an experienced, albeit unusual, catering source: Mission Catering, a social enterprise of the Springs Rescue Mission.

The Springs Rescue Mission (SRM) has become the tip of the spear in the city’s struggle to address homelessness effectively and efficiently. Driving south on Tejon Street, the problem of homelessness is apparent. However, the solutions to the problem are not as evident.

Mission Catering is one of those solutions. Based on the campus of the SRM, Mission Catering prepares and serves 800 meals daily. All employees are SRM residents who have committed to improving their lives by taking responsibility for their actions. This includes leaving behind unhealthy behaviors, making significant attitude changes, and pursuing educational and vocational training. They commit to resolving persistent legal, family and health issues, and they adhere to strict workplace behavior standards. Most importantly, they agree to be held accountable.

A position with Mission Catering is not a handout; it’s a transaction, as are all the services provided by SRM. Retired Air Force Major General Jack Briggs is the hands-on CEO of the SRM. Talking with us while touring the SRM campus, he describes the SRM philosophy: “Everything we do here is a transaction. We provide a safe place for individuals, but you have be safe for yourself and safe for others.”

Briggs describes how the transactional process works. For example, overnight residents must be out of their cot by 7am. “We provide an oatmeal breakfast, but if you want eggs and bacon, you have to give us something. If you want to move into a more permanent quarters with bunks instead of cots, you have to give us something else. We’ll give you a clean, oversized trash can to put your belongings in, but if you want a secure locker, you have to give us something else.” That something else includes being sober, attending counseling, seeking vocational training, respecting societal norms of behavior, resolving existing issues, etc. Not having a house is not accepted for not having one’s house in order. Everything is a transaction; nothing is a handout.

Briggs puts our city’s homeless problem in perspective: “Colorado Springs is about the same size as Portland, a little smaller than downtown San Francisco and a little bigger than downtown Denver. In each of those cities, anywhere from 2,000-7,000 people are sleeping on the street on a given night. In Colorado Springs, that number is less than 400.”

When asked why those other cities struggle, Briggs is succinct: “Toxic empathy: the idea that feeling bad for individuals in need but doing something that makes oneself feel better rather than truly helping. Doing the easy thing to feel better doesn’t provide the real help needed.”

The results of this approach are apparent in Mission Catering’s large, modern stainless-steel kitchen where staff prepares breakfast, lunch and two dinner seatings daily. That staff is hustling; they are polite, engaging, energetic, and happy to be there. They work like their life depends on it.

In addition to a full catering schedule, we were surprised to learn that Mission Catering is also contracted to prepare food items for sale in several restaurants and shops throughout the city. For example, if you’ve snatched up one of the parfaits at Hudson News in the Colorado Springs Airport, you’re a Mission Catering customer.

Mission Catering staff knows this is an opportunity, not a permanent career. The campus can only house 450 individuals; therefore, staffers must seek and find jobs outside the SRM to make room for new residents. It’s working: Mission Catering grads can be found as line cooks and sous chefs across the full spectrum of the Springs’ commercial kitchens, and an overwhelming majority of them stay there, committed to a better life.

Rocky Mountain NDIA is proud to engage with Mission Catering to provide an excellent experience for our members while addressing a significant public concern. Just for the record, though, this is not a charitable contribution.

It’s a transaction.

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