Lancaster Food Company, one of the Untours Foundation’s recent investees, is definitely a “town and country” company. Located in Lancaster, Pa, this organic bakery straddles two worlds—a city with a population of half-a-million and a county that is home to some of America’s most idyllic countryside. It’s the perfect place for a business that aims to address urban poverty and to create wholesome food from organic, local sources.
Lancaster Food Company founders, Charlie Crystal and Craig Lauer, explain their mission this way, “We feel strongly about reducing poverty in the U.S., and feel we can do our part here in Lancaster by paying better than living wages, and by hiring people who might otherwise have difficulty getting work because of obstacles like legal records or educational gaps.” This commitment is especially important in a town like Lancaster, where over 30% of residents live below the poverty line, including 13% living in deep poverty (below 50% of poverty level). And with a crime rate more than twice the national average, Lancaster Food Company’s pledge to include returning citizens (people re-entering from prison) in their workforce is a key strategy for economic revitalization. Charlie and Craig’s vision extends beyond wage and hiring practices. They are currently working on a plan to facilitate employee stock options, with the intention of eventually making the company 30% employee-owned. They are doing their part to solve the big-city problems of this central Pennsylvania town.
Lancaster Food Company also represents the best that Pennsylvania “country” has to offer. Lancaster County holds the distinction of being the most productive non-irrigated farming county in the United States, and 99% of Lancaster County farms are family-owned. It is fertile territory for acquiring the highest quality ingredients for Lancaster Food Company’s delicious sandwich breads, baked only from organic products and free from harmful additives. Lancaster Food Company also produces its own organic premium maple syrup, sourced entirely from a single family farm in the northern hills of Pennsylvania.
The Untours Foundation is a proud investor in Lancaster Food Company. A 2016 loan is helping the venture stabilize its cash flow and expand its operation so that it can better serve the community. They are an ideal city-country business with a sound social mission and a deep environmental commitment. Next time you’re in the mid-Atlantic region, pick up a loaf of bread and a bottle of maple syrup and whip up some town-and-country French toast in honor of social entrepreneurship!