This Pizzeria Employs Formerly Incarcerated People To Help Slow Recidivism

phone taking picture of pizza
Zain Murdock
May 10, 2021

Childhood friends and chefs, Kurt Evans, Michael Carter, and Muhammad Abdul-Hadi know first-hand how hard it is for formerly incarcerated people to find sufficient work, housing, and even just a sense of community. That’s why so many get sucked back into the system. 

So, they opened a pizzeria in North Philadelphia that exclusively hires prison survivors! It wasn’t easy, though.

It takes a lot of money to pull off something like this. And, because Philadelphia is so segregated, Black-owned businesses like Down North don’t get the same amount of media coverage. But their community showed up!

On their first weekend, Down North Pizza sold EIGHT HUNDRED pizzas! “Using food as a vehicle,” Evans said, “...was a good way to … bring people together to talk about [mass incarceration].” So, what all do they do?

Down North not only hires formerly incarcerated people but pays them a fair wage so they can actually support themselves and their families. They also host free job fairs, criminal record expungement events, and are involved with a local food drive.

Because of Down North, formerly incarcerated people have the opportunity to actually reintegrate back into their communities instead of being criminalized, surveilled, and dehumanized.

These friends saw what incarceration and recidivism did to their community, so they tapped into their power and built a solution together!

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