PEORIA — It was a sunny day as Eddie Schierer counted money at the Tazewell County Resource Center food cart as Downtown Peoria workers walked by, talking and enjoying street food.
There are a number of food carts that line the sidewalks of Adams and Main streets by the Peoria County Courthouse and the former world headquarters building of Caterpillar Inc. And since early May, the TCRC cart has been there too.
Jamie Durdel, TCRC’s president and CEO, watched as customers were helped by Schierer and fellow employee Amanda Rudd, the agency's community food sales supervisor. TCRC serves Schierer and other who live with developmental disabilities.
“TCRC has about 160 employees and we are always looking for ways to serve the community,” Durdel said. “We wrote in 2012 to the Department of Commerce to build a commercial kitchen. The kitchen has since evolved into a catering business.” TCRC has operated a farmer's market before the food cart.
“We decided we just didn’t want to be in just one location,” Durdel said after a partnership with Pekin, and so TCRC opened a seasonal food cart. The food cart operates every weekday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. unless inclement weather prohibits set up.
On Tuesday, Schierer, 45, and Rudd worked in a strong breeze. In short breaks from making and serving food, the duo made sure supplies and their menu sign didn’t blow away.
Schierer has worked in janitorial maintenance and other workshops for over the last 15 years, and at the food cart since April 15.
He says his favorite part of the job is getting to work with his boss Amanda.
“I can do what I love with purpose,” Rudd said in regards to joining TCRC last November after Durdel asked her to join. Rudd has spent the last nine years working in similar fields.
“A different individual comes down every day and works two hours,” Durdel said. “They are able to work on things such as customer service skills, budgeting, how to work the cash register, and interacting with customers.”
Durdel hopes to stay open until October, weather permitting.
It is Durdel’s hope the TCRC offers a step towards more inclusive jobs in the community.
“Within the last five years, we pushed to do all we can to not segregate our individuals so much and keep them in one building,” Durdel said. “We want them to get out and share the community.”