New York is one of only two states that automatically sentences 16 and 17-year olds as adults. Unsurprisingly, being a minor in a prison built for adults can be a damaging experience. The recidivism rate for young offenders in New York is almost 70 percent within one year of release.
Drive Change is a nonprofit that hires young people who have just been released from adult prisons. It then puts them to work in a Queen-based industrial kitchen and on a food truck that appears at muliple sites all over the city, including Dumbo, Roosevelt Island, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The food truck, Snow Day, is the first in a potential fleet. On its menu: locally-sourced, maple syrup-inspired food. Jordyn Lexton founded the organization in 2013 with the goal of reducing the number of young people that return to jail after being released with a criminal record. She employs them at $11 and hour and provides what she hopes will be a launchpad into the food industry or other employment opportunities.