Coffee cart is up and running


Myah Lear

Time to brew! Brenda Lenning brews a mocha as Barb Politi helps. The coffee cart is operated by the Autistic Support and Life Skills classes with the help of the adults in those classrooms.

Myah Lear, Media Manager

The coffee cart started back up on Sept. 18. It will be running first through fourth period, and then after lunch during sixth period. They will be selling things such as different types of coffee, hot chocolate, iced tea, lemonade and different types of snacks such as cookies and muffins. Everything on the cart will be sold for $1, unless otherwise stated.

The coffee cart is run by students in the school.

“The coffee cart is operated out of autistic support, as well as the life classrooms here at the high school that are focusing and working on soft job skills… Those are the students that are targeted first to work on the coffee cart,” autistic support teacher Travis Young said. “Kiddos that, perhaps a couple years down the road, are looking at getting a job, maybe those are the kinds of kids that we’re looking at trying to work on the coffee cart, so that we can work on those skills now in school that they can take with them when they graduate and hopefully you’ll get a job in the community when when that time comes.”

Several students take advantage of this opportunity.

“Skills they learn are: handling money, social interaction is a big one, how to greet somebody, how to take an order, how to call out an order, how to appropriately give somebody a hot beverage right is a skill we take for granted sometimes, but it’s definitely something we’ve had to work on. Saying goodbye, you know, just those back and forth interactions that you get when you go to a nice restaurant or you go to a great local business,” Young said.

The coffee cart originally started in 2018.

“It started as an idea for a student in my classroom that was nearing the age of graduation,” Young said. “He was nonverbal, but he had a lot of work skills. We got together as a team and tried to rack our brains on what he could do job wise because he wasn’t necessarily the best at interacting with people because of that communication barrier. So we came up with the idea of coffee and taking it around.”

The coffee cart was originally pushed from class to class during first period.

“We would brew like one pot of coffee, and we put it into a carafe. Then we would take it around on a cart we had, and it started from that and teachers would let their kids come out of the hallway and get coffee first period, I think, is the only time that we ran it,” Young said. “Then it kind of, over the years, has just continued to evolve and grow. Now we have a location outside of MLTV.”

The coffee cart is mostly student driven.

“We realized across the board that it would allow students to learn those soft skills that are going to help them get jobs after they graduate, interpersonal skills and a bit of work with their peers. So we tried to really, really push the students to stay in the forefront of the coffee card business…,” emotional support professional with autistic support Matthew Lechner said.

The coffee cart normally takes a few weeks to start up.

“At the beginning of the year, there’s some financial stuff from the business office that I have to take care of, the kind of the behind the scenes type stuff, but in terms of things like the coffee and the muffins and things like that, it’s just an email to Blair Candy…” Young said. “We, myself and Mr. [Lechner], get an idea of the supplies that we’re going to need to start up, and we put a weekly order in and then, each week, we just order for the next week and it kind of rolls like that.”

The money to fund the coffee cart comes from the cart’s profits.

“The money to fund the items on the cart, the cost to all the goods and things like that, comes from the profits of whatever the cart makes,” Young said. “If we make “x” amount of dollars during the week, that money goes towards funding the following week.”

The autistic support and life skills classes use a portion of the profited money to fund their activities.

“The money also goes towards supporting our students on their weekly trips and outings,” Young said. “ Another part of their curriculum is going into the community once a week and accessing local businesses public transportation, basically, again, learning how to handle money, how to follow up on schedule, those kinds of things. The coffee cart funds go towards helping defray the cost of those trips for the families and students.”

Some of the students who work at the cart are excited to work the cart everyday, which was Young’s goal when starting the cart.

“Every day they’re constantly excited to go to work,” Young said. “The great thing about our kids is that they have a desire to want to learn those new skills and a desire to be able to give back to the school. Knowing that they have a little bit of something to give back to the school is really exciting to them and so there’s hardly ever a day that the kids miss school or don’t want to go to work.”

The coffee cart does take suggestions from students about what to add to the cart.

“If they’re a pretty frequent customer of the business, and they are really supporting us and what we’re trying to do, we will absolutely listen, and if it’s within reason, we can accommodate,” Young said. “We always try to because at the end of the day, it’s a student business for the students, so we’re here to listen.”

Sophomore Teagan Fanelli goes to the coffee cart every other day during third period.

“I think that it’s a good idea and that just having something like this is great. It kind of makes it have something that the students can go to get drinks from and stuff,” Fanelli said.

Fanelli stated that the cart is beneficial to her and her school day.

“I do like going there because I think they have the best iced coffee… A lot of the time I’m tired in school. So going there helps keep me awake and focused,” Fanelli said. “I just think that it helps me to focus and stay more in touch with all my classes.”

Students have been ordering from the coffee cart since it started in 2018.

“It has always been very popular with the student body,” Lechner said. “It brings our students closer to their peers. It’s a really good learning experience. It’s a really good reward system. And I think it’s again, very positive for everybody within the school.”