Each year, a significant number of students transition through and age out of the special education programs of the various school districts of Lane County. Many lack the focused skills that prepare them to transition successfully to a traditional work setting. When these students reach 21, with their choices for independence in front of them, they would benefit from a program that prepares them in career paths designed to support their unique needs. In most cases, with an additional year or two of individualized supports by professionals, these young adults would have the opportunity to focus on skill development, as well as build their confidence in those enhanced skills.
Reality Kitchen’s Transition Graduate Program will offer a supportive workplace experience in a community based setting with curriculum designed to help these persons be fully prepared to transition on to other independent job opportunities.
Reality Kitchen is easily accessible at 245 Van Buren St, in Eugene, Oregon, by the Lane Transit District (LTD) local bus line for each graduate student to arrive independently to join with staff to plan, purchase and prepare the salad bar and other menu items. The program is designed to have students serve the public and manage our Whiteaker retail location. There they will learn to process fruits and vegetables for use in our menu recipes and other student products for sale. Our food cart program builds on prior life skills training and offers students the opportunity of a supported “franchise” salad bar food cart and teach students to manage their own business. For others, graduation from this program will be an opportunity to secure a meaningful position with another food service business. In accordance with Reality Kitchen’s Mission Statement, these placements will be meaningful mid level positions with greater chances of long-term employment and advancement.
Reality Kitchen is committed to using foods that are 100% organic, locally grown produce, prepared on site, and will work to establish educational garden spaces in the neighborhood and provide events for neighbors to learn methods of food production, preparation and preservation. Offering a raw salad bar, with a mindful menu featuring wheat and gluten free products from local producers, we maintain a safe workplace environment while satisfying the diet choices of a health conscious, well-established Lane County market.
Giving our Graduate Students the skills and knowledge of the essential components of a successfully run kitchen, small or large, simply prepared or more complex, will be the core principal of our program.
Food card- getting a Food Handler’s Card is an important part of getting independent employment.
Basic meals- learning to plan, prepare and serve “the basics” is a life skill, as well as a job skill.
Snacks- good, healthy snacks that satisfy and nourish are important to know about, understand and prepare, as well as create!
Purchasing grocery– so many skills to teach, learn and employ in going to market, selecting produce and supplies.
Service Area Management– Cleanliness, organization, and responsibilities to co-workers, product and customers, as well as equipment use and management skills
Nutrition- understanding the values, importance and benefits of the food we eat, the way it is prepared and served.
Following recipes– recipes presented in picture form or text, made accessible and understandable will support the student’s success and understanding of the consistent preparation of the foods that they prepare and serve.
Measurements– another opportunity to reinforce math skills, tool use and choice making skills, as well as support understanding, goal setting and quality management skills.
Meal planning- from catering and specialty food preparation, to the full service management of the food carts, ‘planning’ brings many important skills to the front of daily conversations, decisions and choices that are both academic and part of the business day in which students will participate.
Budgeting- Beyond basic math skills, the underlying reasons for why we budget and how to budget effectively and responsibly will be covered.
Dishwashing- “The job’s not over till the paperwork’s done” and the skill building for being a clean, thorough and responsible worker is a vital part of a complete program.
Recycling- integrating the basics and importance of recycling will be a regular component of the program, with opportunities to learn the full cycle impact of making good choices.
Utensil identification- another basic skill supported and reinforced through daily use.
Kitchen Safety– putting into practice the basic skills and knowledge needed to make the kitchen a safe place to work and be and being competent in the use of fire extinguishers and other safety techniques that will make future employment more easily within reach to our students.
Work ethic / service skills- the opportunity to introduce theory and understandings of kitchen.
Practices and service techniques into the overall service model, an important skill to instill and teach in successful workers.
Field / Community Trips- Visiting other businesses in the community that model the skills and preparation/service techniques, approaches and systems that we will be teaching.