Food truck serves up job training for local students for nearly a decade

Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 4:23 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - From providing fresh food to teaching students work skills, a Burlington food truck continues to serve up valuable training nearly a decade after it first hit the road.

From the garden to the grill, with school out for the summer, six local students from 9th to 12th grade find themselves at a Fork in the Road. The food truck and job training program can be found at Champlain Elementary School on Fridays this summer.

“In the morning they come in, they set up the food truck,they have a prep shift maybe -- they’re prepping for the menu and when we vend, they also have daily garden shifts. They manage every one of our school garden’s in our district,” said Sarah Heusner with the Burlington School Food Project.

From beginning to end, these students are involved in it all, starting with fresh veggies and other garden products that are used to make the items on the menu. Heusner says the program offers students a hands-on experience outside of a classroom. Aside from cooking up smash burgers and fresh salads, students in the program are served with real-world skills.

“I really appreciate this opportunity to have a job like this, so I don’t get completely lost when I go into the workforce,” said Josiah Ouk, one of the Burlington students in the program.

“I’ve definitely learned a lot of team skills and communication from Fork in the Road and it’s something that really helps you bond with your coworker,” said Josue Correa, another program participant.

For many students, the truck serves as their first real job, and students are paid by the school district during their time in the program. Heusner says the program started in 2013 and the opportunities are endless. “When you’re sweating in the kitchen and you’ve got a million orders up and you’ve got all these customers and you’re trying to multitask and you’re communicating. It is the best piece because you see the lightbulb go on with most of these students and they’re like, ‘So this is what it’s like’ and ‘I can do this,’” Heusner said.

The 10-week student-run program will go until the end of August and the food truck will be here at the Champlain Elementary School on Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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