The Idaho Food Truck Project: Where Are They Now?

Published on June 2, 2023

This is a rectangular image of the kitchen area of a food truck. There are five people in the image. Three are wearing black T-shirts & two are wearing reddish color T-shirt. All have a black cap on their heads.
Our “Stories from the Field” piece details the transformation of a school bus into a fully functioning food truck,
where the students are the ones running the entire operation, with the invaluable support of the staff.

Full Video Description:

In 2020, the Idaho Educational Services for the Deaf and the Blind (IESDB) won a $55,000 grant from the Chobani Community Impact Fund. The grant aimed to stimulate economic development and innovative entrepreneurship in the Twin Falls region and included an award specifically for deaf youth. 

Since then, IESDB has successfully launched a food truck dubbed the “Ravenous Raptor Grill,” which is entirely run and managed by deaf students between the ages of 18-21. This experience is part of their Independent Living Skills (ILS) program, established in 2001 to ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing students could graduate and find sustainable employment. In addition to the newly launched Ravenous Raptor Grill, the school includes other work-based learning opportunities, such as the Raptor Store on campus.

“I am a student at ISDB. I really like the program because it’s helped me be more independent and learn new things through work and money, and time. In ILS, I learned that I can do anything.”

— Jonathan Ream, Independent Living Skills Student

The Grand Opening

In September 2022, the IESDB held the grand opening of the Ravenous Raptor Grill and the ribbon cutting for their new transition center. NDC had the wonderful opportunity to interview the student workers and attendees over a menu of grilled cheese and tomato soup. 

The opening crew included six student workers and other IESDB staff. From taking orders to preparing the food to serve and interacting with the crowd, the RR Grill team had a busy launch. Nearly 100 people attended the grand opening, keeping the student workers busy and leaving hungry Idahoans satiated—a successful beginning for the program. 

“We’ve taken baby steps with this process since it’s the first time we’ve operated a food truck. Last year, we started learning to shop for supplies, for groceries, to create a menu, to develop a shopping list and how to budget for everything. It’s been wonderful to see such immense growth in our ILS students. They’ve learned so much and truly enjoy this program.”

– Lindsay Zemaitis, Former Independent Living Skills Paraprofessional

While it was no doubt a relief to finally kick off the Ravenous Raptor Grill, a lot of work went into making this possible. From sourcing the bus to the labor and materials, the IESDB team’s hard work paid off. To learn more about the grants process and the making of the food truck, check out our 2020 State Spotlight.

More Than A Food Truck

The food truck not only offers a learning environment for the students and enables them to interact with the community, it also serves as an inspiring role model for young deaf children. Preschoolers can practice their sign language skills by ordering food, while older students can practice their communication skills by taking orders and engaging with youngsters.

“Most of the students are from mainstream programs, and they often grow up feeling brushed aside. That’s heartbreaking to me. When they arrive here and feel a part of something, they join this team and feel a sense of belonging. They also feel instant camaraderie being among other students who share their deaf or hard-of-hearing identity. They see they aren’t the only ones.”

– Shannon Stowe, Independent Living Skills Instructor

The Ravenous Raptor Grill has created a safe and supportive space for the Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind students to learn and flourish. It’s a place where they can develop their skills, feel valued, and positively impact the community.

Why Work-Based Learning...Works

IESDB’s ILS program has been a resounding success; the food truck is a testament to that. The project has successfully brought together the Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind community and its students to create something truly special.

This program is a shining example of the endless potential of deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and other schools should emulate it to empower and support their students.

“We want to see them succeed as they leave the school, and that means offering every experience we can while they are here before they graduate and move on. Getting this bus was truly just the beginning. It showed us what is possible, that the sky is the limit, and really there are no limits to this project.”

— Dr. Janna Hasko, Director of Special Education, Principal of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program

Check out our Work-Based Learning Resources!

IESDB’s ILS program has been a resounding success; the food truck is a testament to that. The project has successfully brought together the Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind community and its students to create something truly special.

The National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes offers several resources for schools and organizations seeking to establish work-based learning programs. 

  1. Browse our Career Exploration page. 
  2. Discover the benefits of work-based learning programs.
  3. Learn how to get started creating your own program!
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Categories: All News
Tags: deaf students, high school, pre-employment, transition, work based learning
Useful For: Administrators, Disability Services Professionals, Employers, Families, Students, Teachers

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