PBA business students try their hand at making gluten-free chocolate chip cookies at Cafe Joshua in West Palm Beach. Photo by Nathan Shoemaker.
Palm Beach Atlantic University business students have found a way to make some dough — literally — for a good cause.
In this case, it’s gluten-free chocolate chip cookie dough, an idea conceived by the Students in Free Enterprise class at PBA and prepared and baked by chefs at Café Joshua, a catering company in West Palm Beach. Proceeds from Café Joshua support The Lord’s Place, a nonprofit organization committed to changing the lives of homeless individuals and families in Palm Beach County.
So far, Café Joshua has sold about $800 worth of the gluten-free cookies, said Dr. Jeffrey Kennedy, assistant professor of business and instructor of the class. The proceeds help to keep the business sustainable as well as helping to end the cycle of homelessness, he said.
“The goal was to have students and local business leaders team together, and through projects and entrepreneurship ventures, raise the standard of living and quality of life of the underprivileged,” Dr. Kennedy said.
The project began in the spring, with students researching the gluten-free product trend and visiting grocery stores like Publix and Whole Foods, Dr. Kennedy said. They later developed a business plan and worked on product development with Dennis Freeman, sales and marketing manager for micro-enterprises for The Lord’s Place, and Robert Coleman, director of food services.
The ingredients had to be sent to a laboratory. Also, packaging and labels with a scannable code had to be created, he said.
PBA business faculty member Dr. Jeffrey Kennedy, second from left, holds a pack of cookies from Cafe Joshua. Joining Dr. Kennedy are, from left, Dr. Leslie Turner, interim dean of the Rinker School of Business, and students Noah Buccio and Mpumelelo Matutu.
“The nice thing is that students get to learn the whole business cycle,” Dr. Kennedy said.
The gluten-free cookies were introduced to the public recently at a local green market, Freeman said. “The product was very well received,” he said, adding that Café Joshua is considering several new avenues for future sales.
As for the taste? “It’s an absolutely phenomenal product,” Freeman said.
The project has created several new fans, and not just those with a sweet tooth. University computer technician and PBA student D.C. Ryan agreed to help the group create a digital repository for its data and assist with other technical issues.
Another student, Noah Buccio, a junior who is majoring in accounting, took the SIFE class during the fall semester but plans to continue working on an accounting system for the project. The venture has been fun as well as a learning experience, he said.
The cookies are available through Café Joshua. For information, call 561-494-0125 or visit www.thelordsplace.org.