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Chicago entrepreneur, team focus on ability in the kitchen

Chicago entrepreneur, team focus on ability in the kitchen
Chicago entrepreneur, team focus on ability in the kitchen 02:44

CHICAGO (CBS)-- A young Chicago entrepreneur is taking a bite out of the snack food market.

She began her business during the pandemic lockdown, raiding her pantry and experimenting with what she found.

Now, she's got some great helpers. She has the help from people with intellectual and physical disabilities who know  how to keep it cooking. 

Angelica Ford has a true recipe for success and her base ingredient is always optimism.

She and her kitchen crew make protein bite snacks and nut butters, under the brand name "Fueled by AF."

"We have peanut butter, peanut butter with dark chocolate, cashew, almond, pistachio and maple pecan crunch," Ford said. 

Flavors include chocolate, cashew and maple pecan crunch.

When it comes to her team, Ford doesn't use the word disability.

"We prefer to say differing abilities because nobody here has a disability," Ford said. "Everyone is able to partake and complete the task at hand."

Instead, Ford uses the term "adaptive."

She's been working with the adaptive community since college and deeply believes in her team's abilities.

"Our company runs efficiently because of their attention to detail, their willingness to come in and learn," She said. 

Jawanda Ware, a participant, said she loves cooking and taking items she hasn't dealt with in the past. 

Jawanda and the other participants went through a six-week training course and Ford did her homework to make sure the kitchen was up to all standards including accessibility.

It's located here in The Hatchery, a building in Garfield Park where owners of small food businesses can operate, learn and teach others.

Isabelle, a participant, is learning more about marketing.

"It's great experience to see the culinary side of things," Isabelle said. "I've always loved cooking."

Fueled by AF's protein bites are sold at area coffee houses and farmers markets.

Ford says she cherishes her friends in the adaptive community and it's where she wants to be.

"This is where I feel the most comfortable, the most loved," She said. "When I show up here I'm at ease. I know I'm going to have a really good day."

Ford says one of the biggest challenges she's faced unfolded when supply chain issues cut off her peanut butter shipments. She decided "either figure it or shut down."

So she figured it out, developing her own nut butters, which have become a separate product. 

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