PISCATAWAY, NJ – The scent of freshly popped popcorn greets guests as they enter the workplaces of Popcorn for the Folks whose luggage and tins of gourmand popcorn flavors line the packaging tables within the firm’s Piscataway manufacturing heart, ready to be offered to clients at such locations because the Rutgers Soccer Stadium and to theater goers in New York Metropolis.
“We attempt to keep on with the identical flavors as a lot as potential,” stated Samuel Bier, the nonprofit’s president, which embody Butter, Buffalo, Caramel, Cookies n’ Cream, French Toast, Kettle, Salt and Vinegar, White Cheddar and others.
He recommends “Chicago Baked Cheddar for the savory and Darkish Chocolate Espresso for the candy.”
Popcorn for the Folks started in 2014 when Samuel’s dad and co-founder, Dr. Steven Bier bought an current popcorn enterprise within the Freehold Mall to create a job alternative for his son, then a excessive functioning 24-year-old with autism who needed to have the ability to go to work.
“There’s an 80 to 90 % unemployment price within the autistic neighborhood,” stated Steven Bier in an earlier interview with TAPinto’s NJ Taste. “We needed a self-sustaining enterprise, one thing that will probably be right here for a few years and hopefully ship mass orders.”
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The corporate has grown tremendously since these early days and now operates out of an Ethel Highway manufacturing facility in Piscataway. 100 % of its earnings are used to supply job alternatives for about 50 workers, many who’re adults with autism and different disabilities.
Six work within the manufacturing facility whereas others promote and promote the gourmand popcorn at venues and occasions throughout New Jersey and New York.
Due to the work they’re doing to create inclusive workplaces, throughout October’s Incapacity Employment Month, Easterseals New Jersey awarded Samuel and Popcorn for the Folks with the Incapacity Employment Experience Award.
“They began out small, however their progress has helped us assist extra individuals with disabilities at Easterseals,” stated Anysa Holder, Vice President of Advertising at Easterseals New Jersey.
“All of our program members listed below are all totally different prognosis, all totally different ranges of talents,” stated Holder. “They (Popcorn for the Folks) discover one thing for them to do primarily based on their strengths and what they love to do, so it’s a extremely great partnership.”
“They’ve been wonderful in supporting all of our missions,” agreed Rachel Cheng, Popcorn for the Folks’s Chief Working Officer concerning the partnership. “All of our workers employed by means of Easterseals additionally work there.”
“We’re grateful for organizations like Popcorn for the Individuals who can see previous their incapacity and permit them to return and work,” stated Holder. “The unemployment price remains to be very excessive for individuals with disabilities and we’re making an attempt to vary that however we’d like corporations who’re prepared to work with us and make alternatives potential.”
“We’ll proceed to reward corporations like Popcorn for the Folks. They’re one in all three we awarded in October, so it encourages different corporations to rent extra individuals with disabilities,” she stated.
Not too long ago, TAPinto Piscataway donned a hairnet for a tour of Popcorn for the Folks’s Ethel Highway West manufacturing facility the place Patrick, who has been working with the corporate for 2 years joined Samuel Bier to indicate what goes into making the treats.
“The one who labels the luggage will get to have their very own label created,” stated Cheng who defined how the corporate makes use of customized made popcorn luggage to allow them to supply extra alternatives for employment. “The label tells a bit of bit about themselves: who it was labeled by, what their favourite taste is, and what their specialty at work is.”
Subsequent up was the manufacturing space the place a batch of freshly made caramel corn was cooling, ready to be packaged into the luggage and present tins.
“We attempt to keep on with the identical flavors as a lot as potential,” stated Samuel, including how they make use of a meals scientist who creates the recipes and reveals workers tips on how to mix every batch of the handmade treats.
Rigorously measured parts are then packaged and sealed in preparation on the market on-line and at occasions and venues throughout the area together with Rutgers soccer video games, the Barclays Middle in Brooklyn and the Ambassador Theater Group in New York Metropolis.
“We’re at Joyce Kilmer, Molly Picher, Cheesequake, Woodrow Wilson, and Richard Stockton,” Samuel and Cheng listed of the New Jersey Turnpike and Backyard State Parkway relaxation areas that at the moment inventory the model.
The long run is brilliant for Popcorn for the Folks. Whereas new taste choices are within the works, Samuel stated he hopes to have the ability to increase enterprise to promote the popcorn in additional locations, together with to huge identify corporations and probably at venues on the West Coast.
“Extra popcorn gross sales imply extra employment alternatives,” stated Cheng. “I feel there’s been an excellent partnership between the Easter Seals and Popcorn for the Folks as a result of we each deal with what every particular person can do versus what they’ll’t. All of us have our strengths and weaknesses, so we deal with ensuring there are positions obtainable for every kind of capabilities.”
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