Third in a series of articles spotlighting the five finalists for the Carroll County Biz Challenge.
A Carroll County nonprofit hopes its new project, a food truck serving coffee and breakfast, will further its goal of providing employment opportunities to those struggling with addiction.
Officially created in August 2020, the HOFFA Foundation is a family-based organization dedicated to providing resources that will enable residents of Carroll County and beyond who are struggling with substance abuse to make forward progress in their recovery, according to the foundation’s website.
In this year’s Carroll Biz Challenge, HOFFA Beans, one leg of the foundation, was one of the five businesses selected out of 50 to compete for the overall top prize of $10,000, for its plan to open a food truck called HOFFA Beans & Biscuits.
Tom Herb, founder of the nonprofit, said his efforts to help others began after his younger brother, Jimmy Zumbrun, lost his battle with addiction in the summer of 2019.
Shortly after Zumbrun’s passing, Herb created the foundation and began production and sales of HOFFA Beans coffee, offering “Jimmy’s Blend” from Seattle and “Jimmy’s Hometown Blend” from Westminster.
In April, the HOFFA Foundation bought its first new multidisciplinary recovery house for men in Sykesville, currently housing seven residents. The next step for Herb and his team is to provide opportunities for those residents by training and employing them on the food truck.
Those employees will learn business skills, bookkeeping, customer service and more, he said.
“What is important is the O in HOFFA: opportunity,” Herb said. “The primary goal is to provide opportunities for those in the recovery community.”
He pointed out the need for a food truck that serves great coffee in Carroll County, adding they’ll also prepare fresh biscuits, jams and breakfast sandwiches.
“Our ingredients are sourced locally and our coffee is roasted locally at the Pork and Beans store” in Westminster, Herb said.
The truck will visit various places in the county as well as make deliveries within 15 miles of the Sykesville area.
“It’s not only about serving coffee and biscuits … It’s also connecting and engaging the community and sharing stories,” Herb noted. “It’s the HOFFA brand on wheels.”
Another member of the foundation, Annie Mitchell, came up with the idea of the truck and suggested entering the plan into the Carroll Biz Challenge, Herb said.
Mitchell and her husband Michael have been with the foundation from the beginning, delivering HOFFA Beans around the county.
“When we heard about the Biz Challenge, we thought ‘what a great springboard,’” Michael Mitchell said. “Annie put together the entire business plan within a few months.”
The goal is to have the truck visit schools, fire departments and other popular places in the community, to bringing “good food and good friendship,” while saving lives at the same time, he said. “This opportunity is a game changer for us.”
Annie said she’s “very excited” for the group to compete against the other business startups for the grand prize.
Herb, the Mitchell’s and the four other finalists will present their business ventures before a panel of judges and a live audience Aug. 26. While Herb and Michael Mitchell do the pitch, Annie Mitchell will answer questions about their plan.
The group has an “amazing plan” to impress the judges, Herb said, but they’ll be moving forward with opening the food truck whether they win or not.
“Regardless of the prize money, we’ve already won the community’s support,” he said.
People interested in donating to the nonprofit can do so at https://www.gofundme.com/f/faztbc-our-august-angel.