Our Story


OUR MISSION is to make extraordinary food, source for organic farmers as close to home as possible, and hire people out of poverty. 

We started The Lancaster Food Company after years of friendship talking about, well, many things. But there were two persistent topics: how to have significant impact on the City of Lancaster, which has a 30% poverty rate, and the other was food—making it, sourcing and supporting the best of it, and, of course, eating it.   We feel strongly about reducing poverty in the U.S., and feel we can do our part here in Lancaster by paying better-than living wages, and by hiring people who might otherwise have difficulty getting work because of obstacles like legal records or educational gaps. 

And we love food. Craig's lifelong affair with food includes obsessing over how to make just about everything from scratch, from dry-cured chorizo to wild yeast sourdough starter. Charlie's lifelong affair with food includes eating lots of it, once hosting an organic CSA, starting community gardens, and attempting to improve the public school meal system. We both recognize the deep impact of food on people—on our health, the economy, and our delicate ecosystem. So when we started the company, we wanted it to reflect our values, and to have positive impact on our community and world.

The results? We feel strongly about the choices we made and feel they reflect our values and will positively impact others:
•   All of our food is USDA Certified Organic and free of harmful additives •   We source our ingredients from local organic farmers and area businesses whenever possible
•   We strive to make the best certified organic products, and regularly experiment with new formulations and products.
•   We primarily hire people living in the City of Lancaster, with a focus on hiring people out of poverty. 
•   We pay employees at least $15/hr, and all employees will have access to stock ownership in the company through stock options (we’re still working on this). Up to 30% of the company will be employee owned in the future. 

We hope you'll join us in our work, either as a customer, distributor, restaurant, advocate for better wages for working people, partner, or employee. We're so thrilled to have the opportunity to serve you and work together to make the world a place better for everyone.   


Charlie Crystle | Co-founder & CEO
Charlie leads the company's sales, marketing, business development, and a lot of unnecessary taste testing. He's a serial entrepreneur who co-founded GiftWorks (fundraising software), and founded Chili!soft. His lifelong friendship with Craig and love of Craig's cooking led him to form the company with him as a way to address poverty through prosperity and fair compensation. 

Charlie lives in downtown Lancaster with his dog Bear and is committed to public service. He currently serves on the The PA Workforce Development Board, and has served on the boards of The School District of Lancaster, CAP, YMCA, Assets Lancaster, Theater of the 7th Sister, and Lancaster Community Gardens. He's passionate about food, access to healthful food, and live music. 

Craig Lauer | Co-founder & Chief Product Officer
Craig leads product development, production, and branding. Craig has been a brand strategist, advertising copywriter, fiction writer, and teacher. Before returning to Lancaster City with his wife and daughter, he lived in New York City for over 15 years, where he consulted with a wide range of companies.  Craig's lifelong obsession with all things food led him to form the company with Charlie. He is passionate about agricultural issues, the local food movement, wholesome food, and serving the community. He's excited about working with the Lancaster food community to develop the best organic food products possible. 

Polly Lauer | VP of Ops 
Polly joined the company in November of 2014, bringing with her over 20 years experience in broad areas of executive management, including strategic planning, operations oversight, systems analysis and development, project development and management, as well as human resources. For over eleven years, she was a senior executive at Community Access, a large nonprofit in New York City where she developed a passion for hiring and working with people who have barriers to employment (homelessness, convictions, disabilities, non-traditional work histories). Polly is a perfect fit for our mission. In addition taking the lead on recruiting and building our rapidly expanding team, Polly is also in charge of day-to-day logistics and operations. She is married to Craig Lauer, Co- founder, and lives in the Lancaster City with Craig and their daughter.