Serving Up Success: In a Partnership with Frisch's Restaurants, Inc., a Food Service Program at an Ohio Career Center Is Helping Students with Learning Disabilities Transition from School to Work
Powell, Joanne M., Techniques
The Greene County Career Center in Xenia, Ohio, has a food service program satisfying the appetites of visitors, students and staff, as well as meeting the training goals of students with developmental disabilities. In 1991, the food service program formed a successful partnership with Frisch's, a Cincinnati-based restaurant chain. The career center is just one of the many career-tech schools participating in Frisch's restaurant training program.
In 1990, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandated formal transition planning for all students receiving special education services. Career and technical education became actively involved in assisting students with disabilities in education, job training and employment.
Frisch's, established in 1939, has a history of recruiting individuals with special needs, according to Michael Gilligan, recruiter for the chain.
"If people with disabilities need jobs, and we can provide jobs, and we can customize to the person working around his or her disabilities, it makes good business sense," Gilligan says.
With this in mind, Frisch's restaurant training program was cited in an issue of Restaurants and Institutions as a model of how businesses can form partnerships with state rehabilitation agencies to increase the success rate of hiring those with disabilities. The success of this program has gained national attention for Frisch's.
The restaurant training program offers students with special needs the opportunity to train for careers in the restaurant industry, while helping to solve two of the biggest problems facing the vast restaurant business--the critical labor shortage and the high cost of training--while also placing those with disabilities in the workplace and off the Social Security system.
Opportunities for All
Recent changes have opened the Greene County Career Center's program to participation by any student interested in food service. Although the program is open to the entire student population, the aim of the program is toward students with disabilities. The participants have always, and continue to be, those on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Their disabilities vary from physical to mental to emotional.
Before a student enters this program, a comprehensive vocational test is completed to determine his or her interest and skill area. Through the IEP process, interested students from any of the seven Greene County school districts determine their career goals and then may choose to enter into the food service program. Students enter the program in their sophomore year and may stay in the program for two to five years (or up to age 22), depending on their individual needs.
Students not only receive career skills in food service, but also applied academics and related and employability skills. If students successfully complete all required coursework and career training, they receive their passports containing their skills achieved, grades, attendance, career goals, vocational trade certificate and high school diploma.
Frisch's at the Greene County Career Center has continued to grow in popularity since its startup in 1991 under the previous instructor, Betty Hosta. Today, the food service program continues to be a successful operation under the present instructor, Joanne Powell. A limited Frisch's menu is served with a smile and at very reasonable prices. The program operates on Tuesdays and Thursdays during lunchtime, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Food was originally purchased on a to-go basis or served restaurant style in the school's Greene Room. Instructors would bring their classes to Frisch's with advanced reservations, with the community also welcome to enjoy this Frisch's experience.
As of spring 2004, the food service class moved into a new classroom and lab facility. The new facility includes an eating area modeled after a fast-food restaurant known as The Diner. …