Chimacum Junior/Senior High School has been cooking up something special–a new school-based food truck. The Chimacum FEED Truck (Food, Education & Enterprise Development,) is the first of its kind in public schools across Washington State; a mobile food establishment operated as a school-based enterprise, where students in Culinary Arts develop the menu and participate in all aspects of planning and running a business.
“The truck is more than just cooking food for the Culinary Arts class; they are learning about recipe writing, costing, interacting with customers, and regulations around food safety and sanitation,” said Culinary Arts teacher and Food Service Director Justin Oas.
“Students need hands-on application of learning in order to make their learning permanent. The current generation of students prefer learning opportunities that are service-related and/or community related. This project allows students to apply classroom learning in a practical, real-world setting that provides food for the community, extending learning beyond the traditional classroom,” said Chimacum Jr/Sr High School Principal Ryan Stevens.
This project is the product of years of planning, fundraising, and program development involving many people and many partner organizations. Former Culinary Arts teacher Gary Coyan came to the Community Wellness Project (CWP) with the idea for a school-based food truck in the spring of 2019. CWP was able to raise the money needed to purchase a used truck through a significant philanthropic gift, and donated the truck to Chimacum School District in summer 2020. At that time the project went on the back burner for a few years, while COVID disruptions upended plans. In spring of 2022, Olympic Educational Services District (OESD 114) approached Chimacum with the idea of applying for a Career Connect Prep grant through Career Connect Washington. These grants support design and build-out of programs that provide hands-on career experience, such as pre-apprenticeships or internships. This helps students get professional experience, and helps them make decisions about the next steps in their education or training.
The Career Connect Prep grant was awarded in June, 2022, and a team composed of Chimacum School District employees, OESD 114, and community partners have been hard at work ever since. During the past 18 months the truck has received an upgrade, including a new flat top grill, improved refrigeration, a new generator, and new water heater, and updated configuration for a better workflow. With the help of their Culinary Arts teacher, along with Food Truck Manager Kellen Lynch, students have been weighing in on program design, researching and trialing recipes, and learning about customer service and business planning.
“In a small, rural community like ours, many people own or work for small businesses. Giving students skills in entrepreneurship and enterprise development can be useful, regardless of the career path they choose,” said Shelby Smith, Program Director at CWP.
Students will test drive their FEED Truck enterprise for the first time at the Chimacum Arts & Crafts Fair, Saturday, Dec 9, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. at Chimacum Jr/Sr High High School. They will be serving up fresh baked pastries, soup, and sandwiches, as well as hot drinks.
“Students grow exponentially by being able to attach classroom activities to real-world applications. Combining classroom learning with outside extension crystalizes student ambition and desire to thrive in our ever-changing world,” Stevens said.
“We are proud and excited to be the first in the state to offer this innovative, community-based program. The FEED Truck gives our students a truly authentic and relevant learning experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives,” said Chimacum Superintendent Scott Mauk.
Come try out the menu and celebrate the students in their FEED Truck debut at the Chimacum Arts & Crafts Fair, Saturday, Dec. 9, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (For more information, www.chimacumarts.org)
Chimacum FEED Truck
CJSHS Students with Food Truck Manager Kellen Lynch