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Eli's Cheesecake farmers market includes opportunities for people with disabilities

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Eli's Cheesecake farmer's market includes educational opportunities and items made by those with disabilities. (WLS)

With encouragement from the company's president, two Chicago public high schools and a disabled organization have the opportunity to be part of a weekly farmers market at Eli's Cheesecake headquarters.

Every Thursday from May to the end of September there is a farmers market at the company's headquarters in the city's far northwest side. President Marc Shulman said this is the 14th year that they have run the market.

"We do this with Wright College, it's been a tradition," Shulman said. "We also have a speakers program with the agricultural school, but it's part of our being a good neighbor and for our community."

Two years ago, the market expanded to include items made by people with disabilities.

"We are very happy that we have special partners in New Horizon Center for the developmentally disabled, which is our neighbor, Vaughan High school, which is also a neighbor just down Montrose, and the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences," Shulman said.

Jane Klunk is head of special education at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.

"This is a job shadow, it's also community-based instruction experience," Klunk said. "The students have been involved with making the dog biscuits; they're involved with the horticulture pathway where they are planting the plants that you see here today."

"Our goal is to have them get jobs," Klunk said.

"Historically, people with disabilities are high unemployment because they don't get to connect with businesses," Shulman said.

Being part of the farmers market is a way to connect with business and the community.

"I think for us, we all want a productive, dedicated workforce," Shulman said.

"Mr. Schulman is just so supportive, he's such a great advocate for people with disabilities and making a great effort to be sure that we're here, and we appreciate that," Klunk said.

Eli's Cheesecake headquarters is located at 6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive in Chicago. If you come from 7-10 a.m. and spend $5 in the market, you get free breakfast.

For more information, visit www.elicheesecake.com.

Related Topics:
societydisabilitydisability issuesfarmer’s marketsChicago - Portage Park
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