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Unified Coffee Company Debuts at CHS

unified coffee

Friday morning Oct. 29 marked the soft launch of the Unified Coffee Company (UCC), a beverage and baked goods-selling school-based enterprise serving the staff at Cheltenham High School, and giving about 20 CHS Life Skills students the opportunity to build independent living skills and strengthen their postsecondary opportunities.

CHS staff place their online orders during the first part of the week, and by Friday morning, the Skills for Life apartment kitchen is a beehive of activity with coffee and tea brewing, orders being called out and packed in paper bags, and carts being loaded before the students take to the hallways to deliver the orders. 

“This is a wonderful hands-on, face-to-face experience providing our students the opportunity to practice and implement hard and soft skills, from filling orders and counting money, to making change and practicing customer service skills,” said Life Skills Teacher Vonnie Yeomans. 

In addition to coffee and tea, menu items include hot chocolate, baked goods, bagels and fruit. In the future, school-made baked goods will find their way onto the menu as well. All transactions are cash, which helps the Skills for Life students learn how to make change. Fulfilling orders help the students learn collaboration. Delivering the orders helps students participate in social exchange. All UCC profits are funneled back into the Skills for Life program and activities. The program looks to expand in the future to the admin building and Cedarbrook Middle School. 

Formerly “Panther Perks,” the program started as a school-based experience through the support of the cafeteria. Upon returning to school in September, the Skills for Life staff made the decision to set up the program as an independent enterprise where profits would come to Skills for Life rather than it merely being a labor of love with no financial benefit to the Skills for Life program.

“The Skills for Life Team is over the moon about launching this new program and we cannot wait to see where this new adventure will take us,” Yeomans added.