Business & Finance

Popcorn for the People: East Brunswick, Rutgers, and Cookies and Cream

408ba097cb3a90567fdf_DSCN2758.jpg
Mayor Cohen joins Autism supporters to cut the ribbon at Popcorn for the People. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
bc80d00be7aa5a484177_DSCN2749.jpg
Where the magic happens. Making caramel corn. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
f558ff389675ca24a9f9_DSCN2751.jpg
Mayor Cohen, Steve Bier, and Will and Amy Schafer enjoy their common success in supporting a good business with a good cause. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
0fb60a124931a55a4bb0_DSCN2753.jpg
Dr. Moskowitz, Annie the Popcorn Guru, and Connor Shah of Rutgers celebrate achievement. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
9fd775c0e1f1d4882cb5_DSCN2755.jpg
A sincere moment of joy and hope at the ribbon cutting. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
0d6b801ccefc9df9cf61_DSCN2759.jpg
Steve and Sam Bier, the faces of Autism at Work, Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
011163f7f5de64186deb_DSCN2762.jpg
Sam Bier and Marty Moskowitz share the hope for a successful business. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
408ba097cb3a90567fdf_DSCN2758.jpg

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Popcorn for the People, East Brunswick's local venture into "social entrepreneurship", officially opened yesterday at its new location on Hart's Lane.  True to the goals of "Autism at Work," the staff was in the midst of preparing dozens of bags of fresh treats to be sold at the first Rutgers University football game, making sure to have a sufficient number of bags of the "cookies and cream" flavor which has earned them local fame.  

Popcorn for the People, started by Dr. Steven Bier in 2015 at the original location at the Brunswick Square Mall, employs adults on the autism spectrum in a structured, supportive business environment.  The company has grown to become a supplier of popcorn gift tins to local businesses and a constant presence at local events and venues including East Brunswick Day, the Monmouth and Middlesex County Fairs, and Rutgers Athletics.  It's also easy to grab a bag or three weekly at the East Brunswick Transportation Center and the Woodbridge Mall.

Mayor Brad Cohen said of the growing venture, "It's not just the popcorn; it's the people.  The people who work here and the people whom they serve.  East Brunswick is proud to be the home of this great business."  Cohen joined supporters of Popcorn for the People at the opening in their production facility.  Will and Amy Schafer of Ashley furniture, who donated all office furniture to the business, we also there to support the opening.

Sign Up for E-News

Dr. Martin Markowitz, Senior Associate Dean at the Rutgers Business School, was there to support the students who have become involved in Popcorn for the People through the Enactus program.  Markowitz sees his job as "brokering relationships" between business and the university.  Enactus, which is a program based on driving social entrepreneurship, is a growing focus at Rutgers and Moskowitz said that, "I knew that Popcorn for the People would be a good fit for our students."  "Social entrepreneurship," said Markowitz, "Focuses on businesses that perform a charitable function, provide employment, and turn a profit.  These businesses as not just fundraisers.  They are employers in the marketplace. We want to encourage people to build companies that make money and help people at the same time.  We are supporting sustainable businesses.

Markowitz noted that the Rutgers Enactus team is currently a finalist  in competition for the Hult prize, an international group that has pledged to help 10 million people by 2015.  Next month, Rutgers students will engage in the final competition for the million dollar prize held at the United Nations.  If they are successful, they will use the award to support refugees in the Middle East.

Right now, though, these students are helping to support a business that makes popcorn in East Brunswick, providing work, dignity, and pay for autistic adults. Rachel Cheng, a graduate student in the Rutgers Enactus group, has been hired by Popcorn for the People to be their first Chief Operating Officer.  She faces the challenge of moving the organization forward as a larger supplier.  Cheng was not available for comment, but her colleague Connor Shah of Edison, a major in supply-chain economics at the Rutgers Business School, said that he was "excited and happy" to be working at Popcorn for the People.

Rutgers University plays the University of Washington in football tomorrow night at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, and Popcorn for the People will be there.  Says Steve Bier, "We are moving on to a nationally-televised event and will be there for every game this season."  

The outreach of autism at work is moving off the spectrum as this local business grows and gains support.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Franklin Township

KPS Princeton Garage: July 4th $100 Gift Card Giveaway Contest

June 25, 2018

KPS Princeton Garage recently launched a July 4th promotion. One lucky winner will win a Stop & Shop gift card valued at $100. 

Details of the promotion can be found below:

4th of July Giveaway

We want [1] lucky winner to have a great 4th of July BBQ with a $100 gift card to Stop & Shop!

To enter you need to...
1. Follow our Facebook page
2. Comment your favorite BBQ ...

Suspect in Union Carjacking Takes Own Life in Hillside

June 23, 2018

UNION, NJ – A Baltimore man ended up taking his own life in the Hillside Police Department after he was arrested for a suspected attempted carjacking in Union Friday afternoon.

The Maryland man, Jermaine Covington, 41, was arrested and used an officer’s service weapon to take his life, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan announced Saturday.

Covington left the scene ...

'Luggage Factory' Could Be Hunterdon's First Pot Shop

RARITAN TWP., NJ – A question about opening a marijuana dispensary on Route 202-31 has prompted officials here to consider whether they want such businesses in the township.

An informal inquiry was made to the township’s Planning and Zoning Department about locating such a business in the former Luggage Factory building, Mayor Mike Mangin said at Tuesday’s Township Committee ...

Edison Police Seek Help Finding Missing 14-Year-Old

EDISON, NJ - A 14-year-old Edison girl who ran away from home on May 3 has yet to be found and police are asking anyone with information about her to come forward.

Edison detectives are leading a statewide search for the girl, Jalaysia Staplar-Evans. They believe she could be staying with friends or acquaintances in Newark or the Essex County area, said Edison Police Lt. Robert ...

Police Issue Alert for Missing New Brunswick Girl (FOUND)

Update: According to New Brunswick Police Department Capt. JT Miller, Tomesell has been located.  

NEW BRUNSWICK - Police today issued a plea for the public’s help in finding a missing 13-year-old girl.

Payton Tomesell, was last seen on Wednesday at 18 Abeel St., authorities said.

The girl suffers from anxiety and depression, and is taking medication, police ...

Bridgewater Police: Avoid Mall for Ongoing Police Investigation

UPDATE: According to a Nixle alert from the Bridgewater Township Police Department at 9 p.m., the investigation at the mall has been completed, and the mall will be resuming normal business operations.

Police emphasized that there is no immediate threat to the public and no injuries were reported.

Keep checking back for more information.

Related article: Bridgewater Mall Shut Down ...

Students Lead ‘Die-In’ at Congressman Lance’s Westfield Office; Summit Boy Arrested

WESTFIELD, NJ — Seventeen-year-old Summit High School student Ben Schachter was taken away in handcuffs Tuesday during a gun safety “die-in” protest led by local high school students at Congressman Leonard Lance's Westfield office. Lance was not present at the office at the time.

Read: Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman Talks Gun Violence, School Safety, ...

Suspect in Union Carjacking Takes Own Life in Hillside

June 23, 2018

UNION, NJ – A Baltimore man ended up taking his own life in the Hillside Police Department after he was arrested for a suspected attempted carjacking in Union Friday afternoon.

The Maryland man, Jermaine Covington, 41, was arrested and used an officer’s service weapon to take his life, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan announced Saturday.

Covington left the scene ...

'Luggage Factory' Could Be Hunterdon's First Pot Shop

RARITAN TWP., NJ – A question about opening a marijuana dispensary on Route 202-31 has prompted officials here to consider whether they want such businesses in the township.

An informal inquiry was made to the township’s Planning and Zoning Department about locating such a business in the former Luggage Factory building, Mayor Mike Mangin said at Tuesday’s Township Committee ...

Edison Police Seek Help Finding Missing 14-Year-Old

EDISON, NJ - A 14-year-old Edison girl who ran away from home on May 3 has yet to be found and police are asking anyone with information about her to come forward.

Edison detectives are leading a statewide search for the girl, Jalaysia Staplar-Evans. They believe she could be staying with friends or acquaintances in Newark or the Essex County area, said Edison Police Lt. Robert ...

Hillsborough: Rain or Shine the Show Goes on at Sourland Music Festival

June 22, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - The music always plays on at the Sourland Music Festival - rain or shine.

There is a chance of rain in Saturday's forecast, but the show will go on.

Organizers suggest Consider bringing a pop-up, umbrellas and towels with your beach chair and refillable water bottle. Rain did not dampen the spirits of 2017 Sourland Music Fest guests - it provided unplanned ...

Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity Opening ReStore in Manville

MANVILLE, NJ - Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity is opening a Habitat ReStore in the Marketplace at Manville, next to Walmart on North Main Street in Manville, this fall.

At the store, RVHFH will pick up gently used furniture and goods from Somerset and Hunterdon county residents, and give them a second life at the store's grand opening.

To schedule a time for RVHFH to pick ...

Summer Camp Programs for Children and Teens Announced By Environmental Education Center

BERNARDS TWP., NJ – Each summer, the Environmental Education Center (EEC) in Basking Ridge holds programs that let children and teens explore nature for summer activities that both entertaining and an opportunity to learn about the environment.

The programs are organized and led by the EEC's staff of naturalists.

The EEC is a Somerset County facility located at 190 Lord ...

Hillsborough: Rain or Shine the Show Goes on at Sourland Music Festival

June 22, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - The music always plays on at the Sourland Music Festival - rain or shine.

There is a chance of rain in Saturday's forecast, but the show will go on.

Organizers suggest Consider bringing a pop-up, umbrellas and towels with your beach chair and refillable water bottle. Rain did not dampen the spirits of 2017 Sourland Music Fest guests - it provided unplanned ...

Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity Opening ReStore in Manville

MANVILLE, NJ - Raritan Valley Habitat for Humanity is opening a Habitat ReStore in the Marketplace at Manville, next to Walmart on North Main Street in Manville, this fall.

At the store, RVHFH will pick up gently used furniture and goods from Somerset and Hunterdon county residents, and give them a second life at the store's grand opening.

To schedule a time for RVHFH to pick ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast Episode 17

On this week’s AtlantiCast, it’s National Men’s Health Month, so check out important health tips for you or the men in your life, learn about groundbreaking research into breast cancer treatment that could mean an end to chemotherapy for some patients, meet a local sports hero who’s living his baseball dreams thanks to Goryeb Children’s Hospital and much ...