Category: Alumni at Work, Alumni Stories, Georgetown Magazine, Spring 2022

Title:Serving up support for veterans

Author: Rosemary Lane
Date Published: April 26, 2022
Jordan Foley (L’21) founded ChowCorp, a nonprofit that helps veterans become food truck or restaurant owners, in 2020. Photo: Charlie Magovern
Jordan Foley (L’21) founded ChowCorp, a nonprofit that helps veterans become food truck or restaurant owners, in 2020. Photo: Charlie Magovern

In 2019, Jordan Foley (L’21) was studying at Georgetown Law when he received devastating news: a friend and fellow Navy veteran had died by suicide while struggling with debts as he launched his startup business.

“After looking into it, I asked, why weren’t there resources available for him? Did he not have support? How can we reduce those startup fail rates?” he says. “I knew there were many nonprofits helping veterans start businesses, but I wanted to help them longterm. I wanted to honor my friend.”

He began considering his longtime passion for food as a pathway to business ownership.

Foley has long been aware of food’s power to connect generations and cultures. He remembers standing on a footstool when he was young, watching his grandmother as she cooked. He remembers sharing a homemade deep dish pizza with a Navy member he didn’t know well in a submarine thousands of feet below the sea. He remembers a friend’s grandmother in China handing him a plate of dumplings and squeezing his shoulder when he felt alone during an overseas stint.

“I decided to hyper-focus on the culinary industry so that we can take a veteran from zero knowledge to business ownership,” he says. “I want them to be able to start a business with a safety net.”

Foley started with a food truck as his training ground. He designed a curriculum to help veterans and their spouses gain business and culinary training by running their own food trucks. He pitched the idea at the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Challenge and came in first for Georgetown Law.

Using resources from the law school, he launched ChowCorp in 2020. It provides cooking therapy, cookware donations, culinary education, and business advice for aspiring food truck or restaurant owners. Three months after he launched, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Foley switched his model to partnering with veteran-owned businesses to fund cooking free meals on his food trucks for those who needed them. Eventually, he pivoted back to his original model.

ChowCorp has since graduated four participants from its Food Truck Training Program in Annapolis, Maryland. Foley’s next cohort will involve 15 participants working in food trucks in California, New Jersey, and Maryland. He hopes to continue expand- ing his program and partnerships.

Foley runs ChowCorp at night after his day job as a Navy attorney. He doesn’t consider himself an entrepreneur. Instead, he says, helping veterans like his friend is what drives him.

“It gets back to being a person for others,” he says. “I can’t put monetary value on it. I do this for my friend. I do this for veterans. If nobody is fighting for these people trying to start their own businesses, who better than us to fight for their success.”

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