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August 07, 2023

Popcorn stand at Lincoln Financial Field to be staffed by people with autism

Wawa will repurpose its shuttered location at Ninth and South streets as a Popcorn for the People production facility by early 2024

Jobs Autism
Eagles Autism Popcorn Stand Provided Image/Eagles

The Eagles Autism Foundation and the nonprofit Popcorn for the People have teamed up to open a popcorn stand at Lincoln Financial Field that will be staffed by adults with autism and intellectual disabilities.

A new popcorn stand at Lincoln Financial Field is hiring adults with autism and intellectual disabilities to cook, prepare and package popcorn bags during football games and other events.

The Eagles Autism Foundation and Popcorn for the People, a nonprofit that creates employment opportunities for neurodiverse people, are teaming up on the popcorn stand in an effort to reduce the unemployment rate among autistic people. At least 85% of people on the autism spectrum are unemployed, the highest among any disability, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. 

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Additionally, the former Wawa store at Ninth and South streets, which closed in 2021, is being transformed into a Popcorn for the People production facility. For every bag of popcorn sold there, $1 will be donated to the Eagles Autism Foundation, which funds autism research and care programs. Renovations are expected to be complete by early next year.

Nouryon, a Delaware County-based chemicals company, is helping to fund the project.

"This transformational partnership is a prime example of what can be accomplished when organizations with aligned missions come together," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a press release. "Neurodiverse individuals contribute to society in so many ways and bring unique skillsets to the workplace. With the help of Popcorn for the People, Nouryon and Wawa, we look forward to bringing these new employment opportunities to the city of Philadelphia as we continue to build upon our longstanding commitment to inclusion." 

The Eagles Autism Foundation has raised more than $23 million since 2018 through the Eagles Autism Challenge, its primary fundraising event. 

Eagles Autism PopcornProvided Image/Eagles

Popcorn for the People, a nonprofit that creates employment opportunities for people with autism, will open a production facility inside the former Wawa store at Ninth and South streets in Center City. Renovations are expected to finished by early 2024. Above, is a rendering of the finished facility.

The Eagles became the first professional sports team to partner with Popcorn for the People in 2019, when the nonprofit sold pre-bagged popcorn at the stadium at the end of the NFL season. The new popcorn stand is located on Pepsi Plaza.

Though awareness of autism and its symptoms have grown in recent decades, autistic people still experience challenges in finding work and receiving reasonable accommodations as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to Medical News Today

Popcorn for the People formed to reduce these challenges. In 2014, Sam Bier had no working experience other than pushing carts at a grocery store. With his parents, Bier formed Popcorn for the People to help other autistic people enter the workforce. Now, workers sell popcorn bags at airports in New York and New Jersey, Capital One Cafes, Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center and online