EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—A local non-profit is helping young people on the autistic spectrum find meaningful employment all while selling gourmet popcorn.
Dr. Steven Bier of East Brunswick said he developed Popcorn for the People in 2015 to help his 26 year-old-son, who is high functioning autistic, find meaningful employment.
“I decided to take the bull by the horns,” Dr. Bier said, as he and a number of other local residents founded a non-profit called “Popcorn for the People.”
A 2012 study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that only 55% of young people on the autism spectrum held paid employment in the first 6 years after high school.
Autistic employees work side by side with neurotypical workers in an environment that encourages social interaction along with workplace responsibility.
“We’ve created an atmosphere that is very open and very diverse and allows these young men and women to leave with their skills and work on their weaknesses,” Dr. Bier said.
Popcorn for the people has teamed up with other organizations, such as Rutgers Enactus, made up of Rutgers Business School students. This relationship helped the non-profit to become the official gourmet popcorn vendor for Rutgers University athletics.
The 16 flavors of popcorn, which are available in store and online, range from traditional salt and butter to more exotic varieties, such as Buffalo Wing, Dark Chocolate Espresso, and Girl Scout Inspired Thin Mint.
“I think the overwhelming favorite is cookies and cream,” said Bier, explaining that creating this flavor involves melting white chocolate over the popcorn and sprinkling on crushed up oreo cookies.
The popcorn is sold in store for $15 for a one gallon tin, with half price refills available.
To learn more or purchase popcorn online visit https://www.popcornforthepeople.com/.