Recently, Concession Nation had the wonderful opportunity to custom build a food truck designed to be a mobile kitchen and a classroom. Sodexo, a leading food service company that specializes in serving schools and their students, is partnering with the Francis Howell School District to provide practical work experience for their older students.
Why is this a big deal?
Older students in southern parts of St. Charles, Missouri will now get the opportunity to serve select elementary and middle schools in the same school district as part of their culinary arts curriculum. This will give them invaluable work experience as they work alongside skilled Sodexo professionals. Plus, the food truck is in addition to the more traditional food services provided at these schools and is tied in to the free and reduced lunch programs, allowing qualified students to use their meal card at the truck.
“The Food for Thought food truck will be an extension of the classroom,” said Chief Operating Officer Kevin Supple. “The food truck program is an opportunity to provide our students with real-world experience and career training and is part of our broader effort to introduce more career readiness offerings into our curriculum.”
What work experience will the students obtain on a food truck?
The culinary arts students participating on the “Food for Thought” Food Truck will gain invaluable mentorship and practical experience with the following items:
Craft Menus. They will design and craft menus with international cuisine that also meet the national school lunch nutrition requirements. They’ll also get to be in on the ground floor with learning how to organize, supply, and stock the food truck.
Customer Interaction. These students will be able to experience what it is like to interact up close and personally with the public and what it means to provide excellent customer service.
Evolve and Adapt. The nature of a food truck business is its mobility and flexibility. The student personnel will necessarily have to adapt to each location, to changes in service requirements, levels of stress and busyness. It’s a high-paced, tightly packed environment that will throw these young people into situations where they’ll have to evolve and grow to meet the challenge. This will also give them problem-solving skills that will be invaluable later in life.
Interpersonal Skills and Teamwork. These youth will be working in teams and with the public. They’ll get first-hand knowledge on how to effectively communicate with others to get the job done right.
Commercial Awareness. As the truck will also be a classroom, they’re going to learn valuable lessons on how to run a business, how to cook, and restaurant specific skills. If any of these students wants to jump in and start their own food truck business, they’ll be that much ahead of the game! But, these lessons will obviously come in handy with any business venture or future career they may have.
Maturity and Confidence. We all expect a certain level of immaturity from high school students due to limited life experiences and a still developing brain. That said, working alongside older mentors in a work environment will lend these developing people experience that’ll add to their maturity. This, in turn, will add to their confidence and self-esteem.
Basically, this pioneering program is an effective tool for helping these teens prepare for the adult world. As Karin Mann, the Food Service Manager and Head Chef for the program, stated:
“The food truck is a unique experience and will benefit students of all ages, younger students will be able to experience a fun and healthy lunch, while older students will have the opportunity to acquire both business and culinary knowledge. It’s a win-win opportunity in getting students ready for the real world!”
The “Food for Thought” Food Truck can enhance learning for the young kids, too!
Even the young kids in the Francis Howell School District can benefit from the food truck. They’ll have their regular cafeteria options, of course, but they’ll also get the opportunity to purchase food from the truck that’s designed to meet federal nutritional guidelines.
“For your brain to function optimally, it requires sufficient levels of glucose, electrolytes and amino acids, all of which are obtained through the foods you eat,” according to Neuroscientist Matthew Stanford, professor of psychology, neuroscience and biomedical studies at Baylor University. “Deficiencies in any of these vital nutrients can lead to cognitive confusion, forgetfulness, lack of attention and mood swings.”
Part of Sodexo’s mandate, per its website, is to “feed young minds” by providing the following:
- USDA-compliant, nutritious meals to drive academic performance
- Encourage healthy eating behaviors through nutrition education
- Solve food insecurity with more meals at school and summer feeding programs
If this partnership is successfully run as advertised, these young students should be provided with the nutrients needed to keep their young minds sharp while at school – optimizing their learning experience.
For further reading on the story that made the news on the St. Louis Channel 5 website, go here. We are truly proud to have played a small role in providing such a unique experience for the Francis Howell School District Students.