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 connoisseur popcorn flavors line the packaging tables within the firm’s Piscataway manufacturing heart, ready to be offered to prospects at such locations because the Rutgers Soccer Stadium and to theater goers in New York Metropolis.
“We attempt to persist with the identical flavors as a lot as doable,” 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 present 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 fee within the autistic group,” 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 Street manufacturing facility in Piscataway. 100 % of its earnings are used to offer job alternatives for about 50 staff, many who’re adults with autism and different disabilities.
Six work within the manufacturing facility whereas others promote and promote the connoisseur 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 development has helped us assist extra folks with disabilities at Easterseals,” stated Anysa Holder, Vice President of Advertising and marketing at Easterseals New Jersey.
“All of our program individuals listed below are all totally different analysis, all totally different ranges of skills,” 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 fantastic partnership.”
“They’ve been superb in supporting all of our missions,” agreed Rachel Cheng, Popcorn for the Folks’s Chief Working Officer in regards to the partnership. “All of our staff employed by way 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 come back and work,” stated Holder. “The unemployment fee continues to be very excessive for folks with disabilities and we’re attempting to alter that however we want corporations who’re prepared to work with us and make alternatives doable.”
“We’ll proceed to reward corporations like Popcorn for the Folks. They’re one in every of three we awarded in October, so it encourages different corporations to rent extra folks with disabilities,” she stated.
Just lately, TAPinto Piscataway donned a hairnet for a tour of Popcorn for the Folks’s Ethel Street West manufacturing facility the place Patrick, who has been working with the corporate for 2 years joined Samuel Bier to point out what goes into making the treats.
“The one that 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 provide extra alternatives for employment. “The label tells slightly 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 reward tins.
“We attempt to persist with the identical flavors as a lot as doable,” stated Samuel, including how they make use of a meals scientist who creates the recipes and reveals staff the right way to mix every batch of the handmade treats.
Fastidiously 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 present inventory the model.
The longer term 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 large identify corporations and presumably at venues on the West Coast.
“Extra popcorn gross sales imply extra employment alternatives,” stated Cheng. “I feel there’s been an important partnership between the Easter Seals and Popcorn for the Folks as a result of we each give attention to what every particular person can do versus what they’ll’t. All of us have our strengths and weaknesses, so we give attention to ensuring there are positions out there for all types of capabilities.”
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