The food & beverage industry has a notoriously high staff turnover. In fact, BC records the industry average as 70% – 80% per year. By those same measures, “Barriered Employees” or individuals who identify as having a traditional barrier to employment turnover at a rate of just 30% per year. Traditional barriers can include a history of addiction, poverty, recidivism management, age, sexual orientation, and time spent away from the workforce.  half of staff identify as having a traditional barrier to employment. These numbers show that our workforce should have at least 50% more longevity than the average kitchen and our experience validates that.

Stats aside, the proof is in the pudding (or whatever recipe Chef has whipped up for the day)! Many of our traditionally barriered employees stick with us for years. This allows our culture and community to benefit from the stable, family-like environment that develops after extended periods of staff continuity. Beyond the pragmatic benefits of a tight-knit, familiar team, these low-barrier jobs with fair wages, benefits and a respectful, safe workplace environment give our staff more than just meaningful employment. Accessible jobs give these individuals the opportunity to (re)define their lives with new skill sets, support networks, and more.

longtime staff member Brad with his portrait in the legendary Save On Meats butcher shop


Layering partnerships with step-to-work organizations that include Open Door Group, the YMCA, Mission Possible, Pacific Autism Family Network and Jobs West Employment Services, we advocate alongside the Provincial Government of British Columbia’s group of Accessible Employers. By entering this collective of conscious, accountable small and large businesses, we are able to sustain our action in creating accessible, inclusive entry-level jobs within our own organization. This network allows us to share information that informs our business practice. In turn, we are able to educate other businesses on the benefits of hiring individuals with traditional barriers and creating employment.

Save On Meats staff facilitating a BBQ at a DTES street market.


Understanding our workforce is as important as understanding those we are in service to. By facilitating anonymous, yet open communication inroads by way of casual, caring interviews and/or written questionnaires to suit the employee’s preference, we aim to measure the needs of our team. For example, a small tweak to the flow of the day might better suit an employee managing autism, or a specific routine shift schedule might better suit an employee managing single-parenthood. By understanding the needs of a diverse workforce, we can adapt and ultimately provide a better service to those who need us most.

Diverse Save On Meats kitchen team prepares meal token sandwiches.