Anne Arundel Community College just gave three students thousands of dollars for food trucks and beer — as part of their mission to save the world.
This year’s winners of the school’s yearly Big Idea Competition, which asks students to solve a problem or create a convenience with a creative idea, plan to support veterans, the LGBTQ community and families in need.
Thank you for your service
Jordan Foley, a 33-year-old Naval Academy and Massachusetts Institute of Technology grad, won first prize and the Community Idea award for his non-profit, Chow.
As a submarine officer, Foley said connecting with people became hard in the six years he was constantly moving around the country.
“I wanted something I could be passionate about that could move with me,” he said.
When he moved back to Annapolis with his wife and two daughters, Foley said he found his love for cooking and realized it was a shared passion in the military.
In January, Chow got its non-profit status and began training veterans to cook for homeless people each month at a kitchen in Cheverly. Foley began savings for a food truck he says will be run by veterans who will serve a rotating menu.
But the coronavirus pandemic made him pump the breaks. A big event that was going to be Chow’s premiere was canceled in March and he’s had to take more time to make sure his staff is safe.
“Being part of the non-profit and culinary industry, we got hit twice as hard by COVID,” Foley said.
But he’s still hopeful, noting his food service for homeless people never stopped and Chow donated more than $30,000 worth of equipment to veterans starting bakeries during COVID.
Coronavirus was the birth of Andrew Parr’s Big Idea.
The former Annapolis High School teacher said he saw people sneaking sips while walking around downtown and realized he could solve two problems at once: give people a place to drink and stimulate the economy.
Small breweries have opened around Maryland and elsewhere in Anne Arundel County, but Annapolis has just one. Parr hopes to change that and make Annapolis a beer tourism hotspot.
Parr is putting the $750 he earned for second place and the Fan Favorite prize toward his master brewer certification. Once that’s complete, he plans to open a beer garden and an LGBTQ-centered taproom — Annapolis’ first gay bar.
“I am a gay entrepreneur, so it’s important to me to have something that’s inclusive, Parr said.
Annapolis Pride founder Jeremy Browning said he’s excited to see the LGBTQ taphouse come to fruition.
“There are very few queer spaces in the area and this would give LGBTQ+ people from Annapolis to Glen Burnie, Bowie, South County, Eastern Shore, and surrounding areas a safe space to socialize and connect,” Browning said. “If there was ever a doubt whether this is needed, remember the thousands of LGBTQ+ people and families flooded the streets at the Inaugural Annapolis Pride Parade and Festival.”
He plans to serve healthy meals for free along with easy recipes and healthy cooking tips so families can recreate the dishes at home.
Rookwood has partnered with grocery stores that provide him with free produce and is looking to expand his partnerships.
The $250 he won for third place gets him closer to his goal of creating a big, yellow fleet. Kirkwood plans to add at least one food truck to the company each year to service Anne Arundel, Howard, Prince Georges and Baltimore counties.