One of our three core values at Chop’s Teen Club is to provide for future success for our teen members. We do this through our expansive work ready program portfolio; including our Awesome Pretzel Cart Work Readiness Program. This free 10-week program for teens in 10-12th grades prepares teens to get and keep a job. We use the Awesome Pretzel Cart, which was donated to Chop’s Teen Club from Guy Fieri’s Cooking With Kids Foundation, to teach business skills. Teens learn about marketing, inventory control, profit margins, customer service, cash handling, and food safety and sanitation. They also earn a basic food handlers certificate, which is required for work in the restaurant industry in California. Valuable work experience is gained through working at the pretzel cart at the West End Farmers Market. Dressed in their Chop’s t-shirts, the students rotate through shifts that are comprised of pretzel cook, pretzel server, supervisor, cashier, and a marketer who is responsible for driving traffic to the cart by handing out flyers and pretzel samples throughout the crowd of market goers.
This comprehensive program also includes instruction on creating a resume and how to write effective cover letters. They delve into public speaking and learn how to conduct themselves in a job interview. Managers from businesses like Starbucks, Coldstone Creamery and Domino’s Pizza take them through the interview process. A field trip to the Santa Rosa Plaza rounds out the program, where the students fan out to the stores to ask for applications and then fill them out with the help of our Workforce Coordinator. The students also benefit from a financial literacy workshop with Redwood Credit Union, where they learn the fiscal aspects of earning a paycheck.
The Awesome Pretzel Cart Work Readiness Program is a partnership with the Sonoma County Office of Education and focuses on 15 competencies that Sonoma County Employers identified as being needed for success on the job. Teen participants who successfully complete the program earn the Sonoma County Office of Education’s Work Ready Certificate and a completion award in the form of a $200 paycheck. We had 17 graduates in our spring session.
It’s exciting for us to watch our teen participants complete a work ready program and grow in so many ways, from self-confidence, to pride in completion of the program, and to see them take the skills they’ve learned and get a job. Take Esteban, who completed our Barista Certificate Program, the Awesome Pretzel Cart Work Readiness Program, and then got his first job at Starbucks! Work ready programs are incredibly valuable to our teen community, but it’s so much more than that, as the programs also serve as a conduit through which important mentoring takes place. We take every opportunity, no matter what the shape to support and guide our teen members.
This Awesome Pretzel Cart Work Readiness Program is offered free of charge, three times each year.