We can all agree that popcorn is delicious, but did you ever think it would have the power to change lives? We’re here to tell you, it does!
After nearly three years of applying for jobs, Samuel Bier was finding it difficult to get hired anywhere. His father, Dr. Barbie Zimmerman-Bier, explained in an email to A Plus that the reason why his son was having such a hard time finding a job was because the hiring process wasn’t designed for people with special needs. That’s when Samuel decided to take things into his own hands and create Popcorn for the People — an organization dedicated to advancing the lives of people with autism.
How exactly are they doing that? By hiring people with autism! Currently, 23 people out of the 50-person staff are on the autism spectrum. “The workers are a crucial part of the company. They pull the ingredients together and make the popcorn, they package the popcorn and get it ready to be sent out to either fulfill an order or to an event,” Samuel explains. “Moreover, the workers sell popcorn at pop-up events such as festivals.”
With 12 different flavors in their popcorn Rolodex, Popcorn for the People is known for making some pretty unique flavors, like Buffalo Wing, Chicago Baked Cheddar Cheese, Cookies n Cream, and French Toast, in addition to their more traditional flavors, like butter and caramel.
The Need for Workers with Autism
Despite the fact that hiring people with autism has been shown to improve morale and increase profits, many companies are still hesitant to give people with autism a chance. Because of this, people with autism are very under-represented in the workforce. Currently:
- 35 percent of young adults (ages 19 to 23) with autism have not had a job or received postgraduate education after leaving high school.
- Only about 19 percent of people in the U.S. with disabilities are working or seeking work.
- The unemployment rate for those with autism is between 80 to 90 percent.
Popcorn for the People is currently the only company to nationally sell a trademarked brand that was created by workers with autism. But hopefully, it won’t be the only one for too long!
Are you looking to navigate your path to success? Debra Solomon of Spectrum Strategies helps young adults with autism and other learning challenges improve time management and organizational skills and guides them toward personal and professional goals by breaking larger goals into smaller, more manageable tasks. Her coaching is geared to facilitating the transition from school to college or employment. For more information and fees, call Debra at (516) 510-7637.