This summer, we launched our Sustainable Earth Small Business Awards (SESBA) and selected 15 winners who showcased outstanding sustainability commitments. Our new podcast, The Green Scene, dives into conversations with SESBA winners about their journey as sustainable business owners.

In our seventh episode of The Green Scene, Wok This Way | Serving Up an Inclusive Workforce, we sat down with Kris Mill and Jake Lipovitch, founders of the vegan food truck Wok This Way. Mill and her nephew Jake use their food truck to serve up delicious Asian cuisine as well as provide an inclusive workspace for people with disabilities. Or as Mill describes them, “Capabilities, because everyone is capable. Everyone has different skill sets.” Through their Wok This Way Prep Program, they hire VIP workers and give them the tools they need to succeed in a position on the food truck.  

Firing up a food truck with a cause

Mill and Jake’s mom were childhood best friends, who both moved to Phoenix from the suburbs of Illinois. “Ever since he could sit on the counter, Jake and I’ve been cooking.” Said Mill. “And he has inspired me to look at what the strengths of other people are. Everybody has strengths and they can contribute.” 

From their passion of cooking together, Mill and Jake purchased a retired US Postal truck and started off on their journey to become the “first green food truck in Arizona.” Early on in their business, Mill learned about the destructive practices of our current food system, especially those associated with producing animal products. They both wanted Wok This Way to do better than the status quo, so they decided to serve a vegan menu.

Their impacts didn’t stop at using less water, less emission, and less land to feed their guests, they also went on to implement energy efficiency, water efficiency, and a plastic-free rule on the truck. With the help of the Green Restaurant Association, a nationwide organization, they were able to become the first certified “Green Food Truck” in Arizona. 

Customers are aren’t the only VIPs

Jake has down syndrome, but that didn’t stop him and Mill from starting their own vegan food truck. As Jake is getting older, Mill is concerned about what will happen to him once he graduates highschool. “In the industry, who is hiring them?” It clicked with Mill that they needed to start their Wok This Way Prep Program. Now, they hire VIP Workers with disabilities to train them on food prep. Jake is the lead chef and teaches them how to cut the vegetables, package them, and cook the rice.

For Mill, creating and promoting an inclusive workforce can make a big difference in your business and in the lives of those that you employ. You can create a positive impact through economic growth, reducing inequalities, and providing decent work for all. It’s very important that it’s not just about the food, it’s about the people who work with you and the people who walk into your business. Caring about them means caring about your business. 

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Where to taste their delicious food

Wok This Way is a vegan food truck that serves Asian cuisine at events. You can check out their menu and inquire about having them cater your next event at their website WokThisWay.today.