Owner of Gin Gin disability support business Positive Steps Mentoring Cathy Ison has launched a brand new food van and catering program to help participants gain skills and experience in the food industry.
Owner of Gin Gin disability support business Positive Steps Mentoring Cathy Ison has launched a brand new food van and catering program to help participants gain skills and experience in the food industry.

WHEELS IN MOTION: Food van with special purpose launches

The wheels are in motion for a new food van with a very special purpose.

Gin Gin local Cathy Ison has always been passionate about helping others to flourish and achieve their goals.

But in 2016 and after two decades of working in the special education system she decided to branch out and open her own small business Positive Steps Mentoring.

"I became disheartened when I observed students were finishing school and losing their way, becoming reclusive from their own community or not really feeling a sense of belonging," she said.

"So I went about creating social inclusive programs that offered a world of opportunities in our little country town of Gin Gin."

And the small business owner has been facilitating programs for young adults living with autism ever since.

Over the years Positive Steps Mentoring has offered clients a range of unique and diverse programs from learning how to be a DJ to working with dogs and rescue animals.

Now Ms Ison is launching an exciting new initiative that will teach participants about food safety practices, event planning and running their own food van business among other important skills.

"This crazy little venture of setting up a food van (Rollin' Smoko) came about back when I decided to purchase a small van with the dream to incorporate it into my programs," she said.

"This eight-week food and catering program was created to offer a fun, interactive learning approach to all aspects of running a mobile food venue."

Passionate about assisting people living with disabilities through education and training to gain employment in the field of their choice, Ms Ison said the project had been in the works for some time.

"I've always envisioned a program that gives young adults with autism an opportunity to gain work skills and experience the responsibilities of a work environment through a safe, structured and supportive program," Ms Ison said.

"I believe it's all about creating opportunities and offering a platform to help our young people to embrace their very own super powers and confidently share their awesome talents with the world."

Owner of Gin Gin disability support business Positive Steps Mentoring Cathy Ison has launched a brand new food van and catering program to help participants gain skills and experience in the food industry.
Owner of Gin Gin disability support business Positive Steps Mentoring Cathy Ison has launched a brand new food van and catering program to help participants gain skills and experience in the food industry.

Set to launch the food and catering van program in just over a week, Ms Ison said she was relieved to be getting the program off the ground after two years of preparation and a few setbacks.

"The biggest hurdle has been the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic which forced the closure of all Positive Steps social and community programs for six months in early 2020," Ms Ison said.

"During lockdown a small group of friends, family and I worked tirelessly fitting the food van out and setting it up to meet all the council requirements … she passed with flying colours in January."

Following completion of the program participants will receive a certificate in Safe Food Handling and use the skills and experience gained to serve the community delicious food at a local event.

Expressions of interest are welcome with limited placements available.

On days when the program is not being run, the food van will still be operating and serving local businesses on smoko break.

The Food and Catering Van Program by Positive Steps will commence on March 22.

To register your interest, phone Cathy Ison on 0439 946 301 or click here.

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