BTN.com LiveBIG Staff, January 23, 2017
Ideally, all of the country's problems would be solved with popcorn.
Is this a realistic expectation? Perhaps not. But one Rutgers University-based group found some problems do have a popcorn-based solution.
Rutgers Enactus brings together entrepreneurially minded students and business leaders to create community-based programs that empower people. The national Enactus organization partners with universities to create programs on a local level.
Started in January 2014, Rutgers Enactus has worked on projects including a thrift shop/pantry in a local church, an organization that supports at-risk youth and a local community garden. Despite its brief existence, the group topped all its regional counterparts in a 2015 competition then went on to earn 2nd place (and a $1000 prize) in the opening round of nationals.
But back to the popcorn?
Late last year, Rutgers Enactus partnered with Popcorn for the People. As consultants, they helped the company expand beyond a small pop-up location in East Brunswick, NJ to an operation of national scope:
"They've done everything from painting the walls to setting up a work flow process in the facility to aiding with digital marking and getting us a front page story on MyCentralJersey.com on Thanksgiving," Dr. Steven Bier, founder of Popcorn to the People, said of the Enactus team. "It's like having a group of specialists, this little business SWAT team that can both plan and respond to the daily emergencies that come up."
Popcorn for the People is a social enterprise run by the organization Let's Work for Good which helps find meaningful employment opportunities for individuals with autism.
Recognizing that work is a central component of adult life and the right of all capable individuals, Let's Work for Good aims to address the high rate of unemployment among adults on the autism spectrum, according to their website.
Now in its third year, the impact Rutgers Enactus has on its northern New Jersey community is palpable for both the organizations they aid and the students.