‘You need to eat, and we need to cook!’


Marlborough’s Catering Options offers job opportunities for unemployed and underemployed individuals


By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer 

‘You need to eat, and we need to cook!’
Catering Options staff members Ivan Torres and Andrea McNeil.

Marlborough – At Employment Options, Inc. (E.O.), individuals and families in mental health recovery are given the tools to help them succeed as a part of society. The agency operates under a “Clubhouse model,” which offers those in recovery (who are called “Members”) opportunities for friendship, employment, housing, and education.

One of those opportunities is Catering Options, which as their website says, “provides professional training and work experience to unemployed and underemployed individuals with a passion for food.”

Shannon Leary, EO’s Executive Director, noted that the organization first used its full-size industrial kitchen to provide Clubhouse members a hot breakfast and lunch each day. When E.O. was reviewing other funding options, they decided to offer catering services to the public. 

‘You need to eat, and we need to cook!’
Catering Options Executive Chef Rich Nowak

Executive Chef Rich Nowak trains the interns and works with them to master skills in the kitchen. They partnered with Quinsigamond Community College for a full course in which each participant will earn three certificates when completed. 

The first certificate is “Serve Safe” which they need to work in a restaurant or hospital kitchen. The second is their “FEAST” certificate, which shows that they have mastered the use of the oven, mixers, fryer and other commercial equipment and the third certificate is “Allergen” where they fully understand cross contamination and food allergies. 

“After this eight to nine-week certificate program, those that have mastered all of the necessary skills needed for job readiness are typically placed immediately in jobs. We have placed about 170 interns in the MetroWest area which we are thrilled about,” said Leary. 

Several corporate clients have partnered with the organization as well including Ken’s Foods, GE Healthcare and Bose Corporation, among others.  Catering Options also has a contract with the Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School, feeding about 200 students daily. 

That was of course, pre-COVID-19. Catering Options, like so many other businesses, has had to adapt its model now, Leary said.  

“We lost 90 percent of our business with large spring events that were cancelled. We had to quickly pivot to figure out our next steps and we ended up offering meals to those with food insecurities. We also now offer a food delivery system for others who might have been homebound or just wanted to purchase hot, prepared meals,” said Leary. 

The program got support from local foundations like the Marlborough Rotary Club, she noted.  They even expanded to Worcester County for those that wanted to purchase meals. 

Nonprofits are the backbone to so many communities. We are hoping catering will bounce back in the next few months,” said Leary. 

But for now, as their website states, “You need to eat, and we need to cook! You get yummy, homemade, reasonably-priced meals delivered to your door while supporting our employees.”



To view the day’s menu and to place an order visit www.employmentoptions.org/takeout


  • Takeout is available Monday through Friday with orders needing to be placed by 11 a.m. on the day of the delivery. 
  • Family style for four is $38 and individual meals are $9.99 (Credit card only) 
  • Delivery within 20 miles of Marlborough is free with a minimum order of $19 
  • Catering Options delivers “at your door,” and all safety precautions are taken.  
  • Delivery is between 3-5 p.m., and there is also an on-site pickup at 82 Brigham St., Marlborough between 3-5 p.m. 
  • Entrees include such things as bourbon beef tips; lemon panko chicken, and BBQ meatloaf, as well as kid-friendly options like chicken fingers.

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