Kentucky Office for the Blind to Provide Employment Opportunities at State Cafeterias

In support of Governor Bevin’s Kentucky Work Matters Task Force, blind and visually impaired Kentuckians will soon have increased career opportunities in the food service industry.

The Kentucky Office for the Blind will assume management later this spring of two cafeterias which primarily serve state employees. The cafeterias are located at the Transportation Cabinet and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

“This provides opportunities of upward mobility for blind vendors and helps them to serve more consumers,” said Corey Marcum, Director of Kentucky Business Enterprises (KBE). “Participating vendors work as entrepreneurs who hire additional staff for meaningful employment.”

KBE is a division of the Kentucky Office for the Blind, which is an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet (EWDC). The mission of the Kentucky Office for the Blind is to provide opportunities for employment and independence to individuals with visual disabilities.

EWDC Interim Secretary Don Parkinson says this move will provide important work experience for Kentuckians with disabilities.

“KBE currently provides excellent food service at Café 300 in the Sower Building,” said Parkinson, “These services will continue to improve as they expand to the cafeterias at the Transportation Cabinet and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services buildings and will provide great work opportunities for Kentuckians in need of employment.”

KBE has identified experienced food service vendors with a track record of positive customer satisfaction and high employee retention to operate the cafeterias.

The first cafeteria to transition is located at the Transportation Cabinet. Food service will not be available between April 27, 2018 and June 1, 2018 as KBE assumes operations from the Kentucky Department of Parks.
Food services will be interrupted at the cafeteria at the Cabinet for Health and Family Services beginning May 31, 2018. KBE is currently working on a timeline for resuming operations.
Governor Bevin’s Kentucky Work Matters Task Force was formed in November 2017 with the goal of addressing barriers to employment and promoting workforce inclusion among people with disabilities, foster children, disabled veterans, and individuals burdened by substance abuse or criminal records.

“The unemployment rate in Kentucky is at 4%. That is its lowest level in nearly half a century,” said Adam Meier, Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Bevin, who led the Kentucky Work Matters Task Force. “For our state to satisfy the employments needs of our growing economy, we must expand career opportunities for all Kentuckians, especially those who have a disability or other impediment to employment.”

The Kentucky Business Enterprise Program is an association of 40 active vendors who are blind or visually impaired and operate businesses in the Commonwealth. The program is rooted in the 1936 Randolph Sheppard Act, which makes provisions for the blind or visually impaired to run vending or other food service operations on federal and state property across the country.

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