July 17, 2024
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July 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Coffee—that’s what’s brewing. Passaic has 30 food trucks, but none are kosher—that is, until now. After a meeting with Mayor Hector Lora last year, he agreed to expand the number of permits to 35 and gave JFS an opportunity to apply for one of the additional five. You can now see the Impact Café out and about, serving dairy food in conjunction with Bagel Munch and certified by the Passaic Clifton Kashrus (PCK).

What’s JFS doing running a food truck?

The goal of Impact Café is not just about serving muffins and lattes, although you can be sure that the food and coffee will be good. The Café will employ people with cognitive or developmental disabilities, also known as neurodivergent people.

Impact Café’s mission has three parts:

  1. The Café’s training program will provide skills to help neurodivergent people succeed in a variety of workplaces.
  2. The Café will provide employment opportunities for neurodivergent people.
  3. The Café will help its employees build on their successes to find employment with other businesses.

Are Neurodiverse people good employees?

No. They’re great employees! The 2017 Harvard Business Review article “Neurodiversity as a Competitive Advantage” cites numerous studies that demonstrate that neurodiverse employees can contribute significantly to companies, bringing diligence, loyalty, and, often, higher-than-average abilities in specific domains. Sadly, current data shows that the neurodiverse population remains significantly unemployed or underemployed.

Even in frum communities, we provide phenomenal education and socialization programs, but come up short when it comes to employment. The Impact Café will showcase the staff’s skills, and this will be transformative not just for the employees, but for customers.

Where did this idea come from?

For years, JFS has provided mental health and vocational services to neurodiverse clients. The grants team at JFS saw unique opportunities to apply for seed money from several grants, including: Impact 100 Garden State, the Max and Lillian Rappaport Foundation, Price Waterhouse Cooper, Edward and Stella Van Houten Foundation, and the John and Margaret Post Foundation. The overwhelming support for the idea encouraged us to focus JFS Vocational Services on this population and create the Neurodiversity Career Development Program.

Why a food truck?

Food trucks are fun, and we want the experience for our employees and consumers to be positive. We also saw a unique need given that until now, Passaic did not have a kosher food truck. And, it’s a mobile café, not just a food truck. We take pride in that, too.

Where does the money go?

Because our employees, rather than profits, are our priority, both the food and the booking fee can be considered a tax-deductible contribution. That said, the consumer experience should be as wonderful as coming to any café or food truck. All proceeds go towards the JFS Neurodiversity Career Development Program.

For more information, call: 973-777-7638, ext. 667, email [email protected] or visit www.impactcafejfs.com

Check out our ad to see more about the large variety of items coming from the Café.

Hope to see you this summer!

Ozer Herzog, LCSW is the executive director of JFS Clifton-Passaic.

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