TAUNTON — Superintendent John Cabral, Career and Technical Education (CTE) Directors Darla Hartung and Michael Raposa and Culinary Arts Instructor Leigh Howlett are pleased to announce that Bristol County Savings Bank awarded Taunton High School a grant to support the expansion of its Culinary Arts program.
Bristol County Savings Bank recently awarded Taunton High School’s Culinary Arts program a $75,000 grant. The grant will be distributed over the course of the next three years to fund the addition of an outdoor dining area at the Tiger Den Café and the purchase of a food truck.
The district will match the grant award from Bristol County Savings Bank for a total of $50,000 to be allocated to fund the outdoor dining area and $100,000 to be allocated to fund the food truck.
“On behalf of the district, I would like to extend our sincerest thanks to Bristol County Savings Bank for awarding us this generous grant to fund these new expansions to our Culinary Arts program,” Superintendent Cabral said. “Bristol County Savings Bank’s continued support of our district has had an amazing impact on our schools thus far through the expansion of resources and opportunities for students. With this latest grant award, we look forward to bringing additional opportunities for hands-on learning to our Culinary Arts students.”
The addition of an outdoor patio has been discussed since renovations of the Tiger Den Café were completed in March 2019. Design concepts have already been drafted for the outdoor patio and the district will begin looking for contractors. The patio is expected to be completed this coming spring.
Design concepts for the patio include a patio with or without an awning, a fence or stonewall, or a patio with natural grading. Each patio design features outdoor seating areas, pear trees, arborvitaes and an expanded parking lot. To learn more and view design concepts for the outdoor patio, refer to slides 23-32 here.
The food truck will be student-run by those in the Culinary Arts program and will be operated at community events in Taunton.
For the past four years, senior Culinary Arts students have participated in an international “food truck” competition as part of their curriculum. As part of this curriculum, students “travel” from region to region creating a single signature dish inspired by that region to be featured on the Tiger Den menu. Judges that are hand-picked by teachers who frequent the Tiger Den then score the students on presentation, flavor, social media exposure, and other management and marketing techniques. Each week the students who create the most popular dish receive prize money that can be used to obtain Tiger Den gear or food rewards.
This school year, the program hopes to host a fundraiser in April 2023 involving the entire Culinary Arts program (98 students including those who take food and baking classes) during which students will be able to show off their talents by picking their teams, truck names and dishes.
“The opportunities this grant is funding for our Culinary Arts program will help to better prepare our students for the job market by bringing real-world tools into classrooms to help develop key skills and an entrepreneurial mindset,” Howlett said. “Access to real-world experience is critical for students to gain the confidence they need to succeed. Many school districts deprioritize courses like business finance or culinary arts because they’re seen as extras or electives, whereas our district is different and sees these types of programs as critical ways to prepare students to be successful in life. This support from administrators and our community partners allows us to further our students’ education which makes this culinary teacher super proud and excited to work here.”
The addition of an outdoor patio and food truck will align with the district’s career-technical education strategic objective of family engagement and community partnership. These additions will also support every Culinary Arts student by providing experiences that are purposeful and engaging while addressing their unique qualities.
These projects also align with the district’s Strategic Plan objectives including: support learning through instructional experiences that are purposeful, engaging, and equitable for all students; create an environment that honors and celebrates diversity, growth mindset, and social-emotional wellness; maintain secure, safe, and equitable facilities and resources that support active learning; and expand family engagement and community involvement.
“With the additions of an outdoor patio and food truck, our Culinary Arts program will be on par, if not rise above, what other traditional vocational schools can offer their students,” Director Hartung said. “The patio and food truck will bolster our curriculum by providing opportunities for our students to learn how to manage a food establishment through hands-on experience. This is yet another great example of how our district continues to put an emphasis on career-technical education for students who would like to pursue those pathways.”
“The Bank and its Foundation first supported the Tiger Den Café when it was constructed way back in 2013 and its a tribute to the school’s administration, teachers and students that we are back with a matching grant to further expand the Culinary Arts program,” said Patrick Murray, President & CEO of Bristol County Savings Bank and President of Bristol County Savings Charitable Foundation. “One of our Foundation’s priorities is to fund educational initiatives and there’s nothing like taking what you’ve learned in the classroom and applying it in the real world…and all before graduation! I know a lot of us at the Bank are looking forward to sampling the menu once the food truck is out in the community.”