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Wawa Unveils Initiative to Support Employment for Autistic Individuals

Chain to transform former store into facility for Popcorn for the People
Wawa and Popcorn for the People
Photograph courtesy of Wawa and Popcorn for the People

Wawa is transforming a former Philadelphia store into a production facility for Popcorn for the People, an organization established in 2014 to produce and package product creating career opportunities for autistic individuals. Wawa announced its commitment during the Philadelphia Eagles’ opening practice alongside the team’s owner, Jeffrey Lurie, and the Eagles Autism Foundation.

The convenience-store chain also plans to offer Popcorn for the People products in select stores later this year.

The location at 9th and South Street was a former Wawa store that closed in 2021. It will provide a space where community partners work together to create more career opportunities for people with autism and disabilities, expand the mission and capacity of Popcorn for the People and inspire the community at large through awareness.

“We are thrilled to join hands with Popcorn for the People and the Eagles Autism Foundation to provide even more individuals with the chance to pursue a fulfilling career right here in our home city of Philadelphia,” said Dave Simonetti, senior director of store operations for Wawa. “This partnership highlights Wawa’s continued investment in employment opportunities for all and commitment to creating a diverse workplace where everyone can make a difference. All of this aligns strongly with Philadelphia’s vision as a city of inclusion efforts to which we are committed to and proud to support. We look forward to the many ways this store will fulfill the lives of our community—one kernel at a time.”

To enable this partnership, Wawa will provide in-kind support which will exceed $1.5 million over the next five years. The transformation of the store also includes support from Eagles Autism Foundation via funding for store equipment to make the popcorn in conjunction with their partner, Nouryon, who has been a significant contributor to the Eagles Autism Foundation’s grants program and provided $500,000 in matching gifts to help bring the project to life. All renovations are expected to be completed with popcorn popping by the first quarter of 2024.

Wawa has 1,000 c-stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Washington, D.C.

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