Every Wednesday, two students can be found in the Eden School kitchen preparing salads for their teachers and classmates. These students handle every aspect of the meal, from taking orders and chopping the vegetables to filling the dressing contains and delivering the salads.
The Salad Express program helps students practice and learn kitchen skills in preparation for the workforce. While students learn individual skills in the classrooms, putting everything together at once in the kitchen is the final step toward employment.
“We’re generalizing a lot of the skills they already know,” said Tara Upperco, Teaching Assistant. “It is awesome if they can peel and dice an apple for themselves to eat, but at work, they have to be able to peel and dice a lot more apples in a certain amount of time. We are taking a task they already know and generalizing it so they can use it for employment.”
Students who previously worked in the Salad Express program have gone on to work at Salt Creek Grille and other restaurants. For Tara, there is nothing better than seeing students in the workforce and taking pride in their job. “They will be ready when they graduate,” she said. “They’re only in school for so many years. They are going to spend more time in the adult center than they are here, so we are getting them ready to be successful.”
Salad Express is one of several incredible programs that helped support individuals with autism this year. Visit our 2022 year-in-review page to learn more about Eden Autism and make a donation!