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Café serving up life skills, tasty food


If you happen to be at Thomas More College during a Wednesday lunchtime it is likely your tastebuds will be tantalised by the very pleasant aromas wafting out of the Margaret More Centre’s Community Cafe.

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In fact, some students are known to linger around the entrance of the centre, in the faint hope there may be some leftover meals for them to enjoy.

Run by the centre’s Middle Year students as part of their Project Based Learning, the café offers much more than tasty meals. It provides the participants, who have mild/moderate intellectual disabilities, with the life skills of shopping, budgeting, cooking, cleaning, communicating, marketing and practical experience in using a cash register and Eftpos machine.

“The café is a wonderful initiative that offers a wide range of opportunities for authentic working and independent living experiences,” said centre coordinator Melissa Goddard.

“With the variety of tasks that are involved in running a café every student gets to explore and identify their own areas of strength and potential post-school pathway.”

Some students enjoy their involvement with the café so much that they go on to complete a Certificate II in kitchen operations.

On the day The Southern Cross visited the café, South African-style mince stuffed into pizza dough rolls and a delicious peppermint crisp tart were on the menu. Other favourites cooked by the students have included chicken tenders, hamburgers and pizza.

Year 7 student Hendrik was kept busy on coffee making duties, while Thomas, Anna and Daniel helped spoon the mince into the rolls and put them in takeaway containers. Nakasha, also known as the ‘dessert queen’, was taking care to cut the peppermint crisp tart into equal portions.

Each week three students are rostered to serve the meals which are pre-ordered by staff and on this occasion Year 12 SRC students were also invited as customers.

As Melissa explained, most of the morning is devoted to prepping the meals and earlier in the week students are taken to a local supermarket to purchase ingredients and put their budgeting skills to the test.

“The café provides an alternative to the routine of learning and it is fun,” she said.

“You see the commitment and resilience of the students to stick to the task and the students also seem to interact with each other more in this setting.

“We have an excellent team of teaching and support staff who support the students in making the café a success and it is a project they look forward to engaging in each week.”

In the past, any profits from sales at the café would go towards a social justice initiative in which students fill backpacks with care and toiletry items that are donated to the Salvos for people in need. This year, the students will donate their proceeds to Fred’s Van.

Established in 1984, the Margaret More Centre (formerly the Vanier Centre) incorporates many traits of the woman who was the eldest daughter of the school’s patron saint, Thomas More, including her devotion to learning, celebration of diversity and holding high moral and working standards in education.

The centre offers programs that facilitate independent living skills, transition from school to work opportunities and leisure in the wider community.


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