Wawa Store Transformed Into Workplace for Neurodiverse Individuals

The Eagles Autism Foundation, Wawa and Nouryon open Popcorn for the People.

March 01, 2024

Wawa, The Eagles Autism Foundation, Popcorn for the People and Nouryon cut a ceremonial ribbon today on a new Center City, Philadelphia production facility that will create new employment opportunities for the neurodiverse community.

The groundbreaking, multi-million-dollar project was announced by the four investment groups in August 2023 at Lincoln Financial Field.

In collaboration with the partners, Wawa transformed its former 9th and South Street store into a production facility for Popcorn for the People, a nonprofit dedicated to creating meaningful and sustainable employment for neurodiverse individuals. The organization will hire and train adults with autism and developmental disabilities to cook, prepare and package popcorn in the new facility, with $1 from every bag sold going towards the Eagles Autism Foundation to help fund future community grants.

As part of the new initiative:

  • Popcorn for the People will hire and train a dedicated staff of 25 employees at the new facility within the first 6-12 months of operation.
  • Wawa will provide support through its repurposed store, which will exceed $1.5 million over the next five years.
  • A newly branded Popcorn for the People community vehicle will travel around the region delivering product to events, creating even more employment opportunities for individuals.
  • Popcorn for the People will further expand its footprint in and around Lincoln Financial Field.
  • Popcorn for the People product in Wawa stores will expand from 30 locations to as many as 75 across the Greater Philadelphia region.

“For more than 40 years, Wawa has proudly hired neurodiverse individuals through its supported employment program, which has over 500 associates working across its chain,” said Dave Simonetti, senior director of store operations, Wawa. “Although the doors closed at our former Wawa store, we’re thrilled to open doors in a new way with opportunities for meaningful employment.”

Wawa initially announced the plans to transform the Center City location into a production facility for Popcorn for the People in 2023.