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Whitemarsh Elementary served up tasty food—and valuable lessons—at The Little Chefs' Eatery

Whitemarsh Elementary served up tasty food—and valuable lessons—at The Little Chefs' Eatery
Student serving lunch to school board president

Whitemarsh Elementary student James Roach serves lunch to school board president Beth Patruno.

For one afternoon, Whitemarsh Elementary School was home to The Little Chefs' Eatery, a pop-up restaurant staffed by students in the life skills class. 

The young chefs were actively involved in taking orders, picking up food, and delivering meals, with support from instructional aides, therapists, school volunteers, and their teacher, Stephanie Brennan Malarski. Even the Superintendent, Dr. Michael Christian, contributed by manning the grill.

When Whitemarsh Elementary student James Viall was asked if he liked The Eatery, he responded through his augmentative device that he “loves it.” 

Boy holds up square he's going to put on menu board

Whitemarsh Elementary student Dominic Paolini taking a drink order

The process of taking orders was made accessible for the students, who used pictures to select items for each visitor. The menu included hamburgers, cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, hot dogs, drinks, and sides. When asked about his preferences, James Roach used his augmentative device to communicate that he didn’t like hot dogs or hamburgers but did enjoy chips.

The event was well-attended, drawing staff, school board members, retirees, district administration, and families. For Jude Grasso, serving his family members was his favorite part. “I like the most that my dad comes, and my dad’s mom comes, and my dad’s sister comes,” he said.

Beyond offering a fun and tasty cookout for visitors, The Little Chefs' Eatery provided the students with valuable opportunities to practice social interaction and communication skills.