How Students Are Learning the Value of Foodservice

August 2018

Today’s high school students are thinking about the foodservice industry in a different way. It’s no longer simply a source for a full-time job, but rather the beginning of an exciting career path. A rise in culinary programs across the country has led to a new generation of young adults discovering a passion for foodservice—from the creative culinary aspect to the entrepreneurial managing aspect. And while not all students will go on to have a culinary career for 20-plus years, all of them will be better prepared for their next stage in life.

Popular in traditional public schools and trade schools alike, culinary arts training classes are allowing students to immerse themselves in various aspects of the foodservice industry. Current curricula include lessons on nutrition, food safety, cooking techniques and more. Danbury High School in Connecticut offers a culinary arts training course that allows students to get hands-on experience with managing, cooking, cleaning and serving at a school-owned, 50-seat restaurant. The students enrolling in these programs learn valuable skills that can help them stand out on college applications and even earn scholarships to highly competitive culinary schools.

Leading this wave is ProStart, which was developed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to connect the foodservice industry with high school classrooms. The almost 140,000 students who participate in ProStart programs receive a firsthand learning experience while working toward earning the ProStart National Certificate of Achievement—a nationally recognized certificate that makes students eligible for scholarships and course credits at a variety of esteemed culinary and hospitality colleges and universities. During their studies, students also participate in professional networking opportunities and highly competitive culinary and management competitions, culminating every year in the National ProStart Invitational.

The industry has taken notice, as ProStart programs, competitions and events are sponsored by leaders including Butterball, Coca-Cola, Sodexo and Marriott International. By supporting culinary arts programs, these companies are making a difference in young lives and helping to shape the future of the foodservice industry. Suffice it to say that as opportunities in foodservice continue to grow, students trained by ProStart and similar programs are well positioned to enter the workforce ready to succeed.

Did you ever take a foodservice course in school? Let us know on Facebook or LinkedIn. For more foodservice insights, visit our Resource Center.


Fox, Sandra Diamond. High school culinary program provides students with taste of a career in cooking, The News-Times, January 2011.

Meet ProStart, National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, July 2016.

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