VINTON–William Byrd High School students and staff who are pressed for time in the mornings and miss breakfast at home or in the school cafeteria, or those who just need a mid-morning bite to eat, are fortunate that, at least on “A” schedule days, Amy Boush and her class are cooking up snacks for the “Café Cart”, which will tide them over until lunchtime.
Started several years ago by teacher Barbara Shutt, the breakfast snack cart not only provides a nutritious snack for those at WBHS, it also gives Boush’s students the opportunity to practice a myriad of skills, and not just culinary ones.
Shutt started the program to fund student field trips and to purchase supplies and materials for the classroom. The profits continue to be used for those purposes.
“This is a great program,” said Dr. Richard Turner, principal of WBHS. “It provides a service to our staff and students, and it provides real world work experience for her students. Barbara Shutt started the program some years ago, and it has continued to flourish under Ms. Boush’s leadership.”
The students prepare breakfast and the carts during 1st block on “A” schedule days during life skills class. The menu remains basically the same from day to day: egg and cheese biscuits, egg and Canadian Bacon biscuits, three choices of bagels, fresh-baked brownies, a variety of muffins, a couple of low-cal candy choices, and beef jerky.
The students all have specific jobs to complete the preparations for selling items to their peers and the school staff in between the first two blocks on alternate days.
“It is a great way for the students to interact as a team and develop social and life skills,” said Boush.
The schedule and menu are set by school and federal guidelines. Boush’s class may not sell during cafeteria hours and their menu must conform to nutritional standards used by USDA school lunch programs, restricting carbs, fats, and calories.
The class takes a field trip to Sam’s Club, generally about once a month to purchase supplies for their enterprise. A list of needed ingredients is kept on the classroom refrigerator door until time for the next shopping trip.
Students are divided into groups with supplies to locate, the number or amount needed, and the total cost of the items on the list. Once at the store, the students divide into groups and search out their assigned items. Generally the class purchases an entire case of eggs on each trip.
This is Boush’s second year teaching the class. She has an education degree from Radford University, where she is also working on her Master’s in Special Education.
Her class of thirteen students range from ninth to twelfth graders. Some students spend the day working in the three room suite for English, math, science, social studies, and life skills classes, leaving for electives and gym classes. Some are in work programs and others go to Project Discovery at Burton.
Freshman Brice Hartberger is the egg chef, preparing scrambled eggs in an electric skillet, while senior Cody Campbell heats slices of Canadian bacon on a griddle, and biscuits bake in the oven.
Instructional Assistants Dan Carrell, Anne Kidd, and Ruth Overfelt supervise the process, and the clean-up, also a responsibility of the students cooks.
Once the eggs, bacon, and biscuits are done, the team works with an Instructional Assistant to assemble the biscuits, wraps them, and divides them into baskets to serve the school. They prepare around 44 hot biscuits to sell each morning.
While the assigned students are assembling the hot foods, others are bagging bagels and brownies, or counting out equal numbers of muffins and candy for each floor of the school, along with mustard and cream cheese packets.
Once the bell to change classes rings and sales begin, two carts are located on first floor, one at each end, with another stationed in the middle of the second floor hallway. Each is manned by an Instructional Assistant and a student. Biscuits sell for $1.00; other snacks range from twenty-five cents to one dollar.
Members of the student body and staff stop by the carts in the hallways between blocks. Hunger is sated; life skills are practiced; and profits are earned.
Aside from the breakfast snack cart, Boush’s students also cook a feast on Thanksgiving, planning the meal, calculating amounts, and sometimes doing the shopping at the local Kroger store.
“The kids in my class have so much to offer and are a joy to be with everyday,” said Boush. “They are smart and funny. They work well together and we have a lot of fun in class and on the field trips.”