Sports Fans Support Concession Stand Staffed by Participants with Developmental Disabilities
As thousands of Baltimore Ravens fans celebrated the NFL team’s 25-9 win over the Houston Texans at the recent season opener, Yachad participants and staff marked a second big win that day at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium: the opening of Yachad’s Kosher Grill, the first-ever kosher concession stand run by participants with developmental disabilities.
Yachad, a division of the Orthodox Union, helps individuals with intellectual, developmental, and learning disabilities participate more fully in the community, via social, recreational, educational, and vocational programs in 10 regions across the United States, Israel and Canada.
Located in Baltimore’s M&T Stadium, Yachad’s Kosher Grill is staffed by Yachad participants who work on rotation, and one to two supervisors per game. Employees are selected based on their interest and abilities to handle tasks including stocking and organizing the fridge, plating food, and filling orders correctly. Yitzi Lencz and Yosef Katz were the lucky Yachad participants chosen to work at the season opener.
The stand offers a varied menu of hotdogs, corned beef, turkey and pastrami wraps, sushi, water and beer. In support of Yachad, Star-K, a national Kashrus organization based in Baltimore, is graciously supervising the kosher supervision at no charge.
Yachad’s Kosher Grill provides an opportunity for people with developmental disabilities to contribute to society via fulfilling work, says Yachad’s Assistant Director Michael Appelbaum. It also enables Yachad to highlight the potential of people with developmental disabilities on a very large scale — M&T Stadium has a seating capacity of 71,008, and thousands of people will see Yachad participants working the concession stand in the coming weeks.
“The stand is meant to show any person walking by, that people with disabilities can be active members of the community in many different ways, including through service and work,” says Yachad’s International Director Avromie Adler.
Yachad’s Kosher Grill is the brainchild of Barry Nabozny, father of 26-year-old Yachad participant Yoni Nabozny. Having completed his vocational training at The Arc Baltimore, Yoni works mornings in Northwest Hospital’s Patient Access division and afternoons at Cocoaccinos, Accents Grill and Serengeti kosher restaurants. Both Barry and Yoni are avid Ravens fans, and a number of months ago, Barry came up with the idea for the stand. He contacted Sarah Conlin, the general manager of Food and Beverage Operations at Aramark, which owns the stadium concessions. She loved the idea, and together with Star-K and Yachad, Nabozny says, his dream came to fruition.
Among the stand’s visitors were Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby and Councilman Yitzy Schleifer, and a mother and two children with Down syndrome who thanked the team for their initiative and told them how much it meant to her family.
The Ravens will be playing nine home games at M&T Bank Stadium during the 17-week NFL season, plus playoffs should they qualify. Yachad’s Kosher Grill will open again on October 22, 2023 and can be found at Section 142 on the Lower Concourse on the west / Russell St. side of the stadium.