International

A chance for ex-prisoners to live new life

Drive Change

Incarcerated youth in the United States of America have been given a wonderful chance to improve and make peace with their past as a nonprofit organization Drive Change hires them to work in a food truck named Snowday.

Snowday serves farm-fresh food made from scratch and is known for its salty/sweet grilled cheese sandwiches.

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A fellow dips sauce on a sandwich

According to Huffington Post, the nonprofit project has been launched by Jordyn Lexton who taught English to teenagers aged between 16 and 18 at New York’s Rikers Island prison facility.

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Jordyn Lexton, the brain behind Drive Change

“We hire, teach and empower young people who are coming home from the criminal justice system,” Lexton said.

While Lexton was teaching in prison, he noticed the the students, who were being released, kept returning to prison repeatedly.

He said, “I witnessed a system that did not do much to help young people rehabilitate. One of the few places in the jail where my students were really happy was in the culinary arts class, with the power of teamwork, camaraderie and a shared meal.”

He hung up his boots as a teacher in 2012 and started Drive Change.

Lexton said that the people affiliated with the incentive were transparent about what they were doing. “We believe that by having this really positive interaction at our truck, we might actually help to dispel some of the preconceived notions that people have about what is means to be formerly incarcerated,” he added.

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A fellow prepares a sandwich

Director of Engagement at Drive Change said, “A felony conviction is like the ultimate black eye. No matter how many years pass by it’s always on your record.”

Year-long paid fellowships are offered by the nonprofit to people aged between 17 to 25 and takes place three phases.

In the first phase is an orientation process in which the fellows earn $9 an hour. They acquire their food handler and safety licenses and mobile vendor licenses and are trained by Drive Change’s coaches.

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A fellow cuts bread for the sandwich

After their training is complete and are certified, the salaries of the fellows increase from $9 to $11 an hour and are taught to master all of the jobs regarding food truck such as head chef, customer service attendant, cashier and manager. They also attend professional courses for marketing, social media, small business development and cash management.

The fellows have to work in another environment during the last phase of the fellowship while still completing their professional courses. Drive Change continues to pay their wages while they work in an another environment.

Several fellows have moved on to better job opportunities. Lexton said that a fellow named Frederick Coleman is cook at Reynard restaurant in Brooklyn while several fellows are currently working at catering companies. Another was Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

 

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Fredrick Coleman

The fellows working on the food truck workers are encouraged to engage with customers regarding the project, hoping the interaction will help bring about social change.

A fellow interacts with a customer

Fellows interact with a customer

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