Prospector Popcorn Provides Meaningful Work for People with Disabilities
Words by Riya Anne Polcastro, May 01, 2023
Gourmet popcorn maker Prospector Popcorn is setting the bar for disability inclusion. The nonprofit's mission is not just to employ people with disabilities, but also to give them the opportunity to shine.
The popcorn brand addresses the significant barriers to employment people with disabilities face by providing meaningful work that offers a better way of life through financial independence. TriplePundit spoke with Ryan Wenke, director of operations and technology at the nonprofit that started the brand, to learn more.
Opportunities come with competitive wages
"Roughly 80 percent of Americans with disabilities do not have a job," Wenke said. "Obviously, it's not because we don't want to work. It's that we're not given enough opportunities to work. Or the opportunities that are given are things like pushing shopping carts, bagging groceries, things that we don't find to be meaningful."
A lot of employers offer tedious jobs to people with disabilities and are allowed to pay them less than minimum wage through a certification from the Department of Labor. These waivers allow employers to pay based on the employee’s perceived ability to do the job less efficiently than workers without disabilities — instead of finding accommodations that could allow them to produce comparable work. For many, that means earning less than $4 an hour.