Panda’s Pantry Program
We applaud Cranston High School East of Rhode Island for their successful Panda’s Pantry Program. Panda’s Pantry is a Restaurant/Café on campus that is run by the ESE teachers and ESE students of Cranston High School East.
Panda’s Pantry was started in 1980’s and funded through a grant. The money from the grant allowed them to hire a restaurant consultant to help set up a restaurant quality, operational kitchen along with an appropriate menu. This enabled them to create a simulated work site for their students. Approximately 3 professionals run the program along with the students. Mr. Casali has been involved in the program since 1991 and is the teacher of record and oversees the overall program. Ms. Karen Beausoleil is the teacher and day-to-day operations manager and technical food advisor, along side Ms. Karen is her assistant Ms.Pacheco.
Panda’s Pantry is a true work experience class and operates like a regular class. They have 6 periods a day and students rotate in and out of the classes. Students begin the program in the 9th grade and may take it as an elective or select it as additional vocational training. Students are able to put practical applications to work daily. Class size varies, ranging from 8 to 10 students per period. Mostly, the class consists of students that would be able to be independently employed. Through this program students are able to learn appropriate work habits, following and taking directions, constructive criticism, teamwork, volume measurement, food safety and money skills. They teach a variety of skills and many lessons within lessons that can be learned.
The menu of Panda’s Pantry consists of baked goods and a few lunch items like; muffins, scones, pizza, chocolate chip cookies, chicken salad sandwiches and salads. They sell to students and faculty and have even set up shop via a cart that they bring over to City Hall (within walking distance of their school) where they sell coffee and provide samples of their baked goods being offered at Panda’s Pantry.
Mr. Casali is a strong advocate of the program and values the hands on practical skills it provides his students. This year they revamped the program by bringing in KIDS FIRST, INC. to implement healthier selections and to provide more nutritional value to their menu.
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