“People who run criminal organizations have all those (business) skills. They just have been put in the wrong and negative space,” explains Roy Waterman, Director of Program for Drive Change. The goal of Watermans’ organization is to train, mentor, and employ formerly incarcerated young men and women by working on a food truck.
As a former inmate himself, Waterman understands how difficult it can be to turn your life around and become a productive member of society. When you are raised in an environment where all you see if drug use and criminal activity, it can be almost impossible to break out of this negative cycle.
What compounds the difficulty of returning from incarceration is that it becomes infinitely harder to get a job. No one wants to hire a criminal that might steal from the business or cause other problems. It’s just too big of a risk.
But without the ability to get a job that pays respectably, former inmates end up frustrated and fall back into their old survival habits. The goal of Drive Change based in New York City is to provide a positive opportunity to these people that are often forgotten or ignored by most of society.
How a Food Truck Can Serve as a Life Changing Platform
The food truck that Drive Change operates is called Snowday. Snowday’s menu is based around grilled cheese sandwiches, a popular item on mobile food trucks. The food truck also won a prestigious Vendy Award in 2015.
At first glance, you probably wouldn’t recognize the social goal of the food truck. From a day-to-day operational standpoint, the food truck looks and acts like any other unit you see serving folks across NYC. As the video below demonstrates, the average day on a food truck starts in the early morning as Snowday is on the road traveling to a vending location at 8 a.m.
The goal for employees of Snowday is for it to be a transitional, but live changing experience. Each individual that goes through the program will work on the truck for a period of 6 – 12 months. After their fellowship is up, these folks will typically go into another job within the food industry or go to school full-time. Either way, the truck provides a positive work experience and job training that can be leveraged to provide entry into the workforce.
As highlighted in the video above the individuals being trained through Snowday became incarcerated for a laundry list of reasons like bank robbery or possession of drugs. Although their reasons for getting into trouble are all different, the common thread among each of these employees is that they want to make a change. They’ve learned their lesson the hard way and want to move forward.
In conclusion, it’s incredible to be able to see how impactful a food truck can be for individuals when aligned with the right mission. Visit the Drive Change website to learn more about the goals of this important organization.