ServSafe Prep Program for Culinary Arts Students

Posted on Categories Business, Community, Workforce Engagement, Employability Skills, Industry Certifications

At a Glance

Students in the culinary arts program at Jules E. Mastbaum Area Vocational Technical School can participate in a free, after-school program in preparation for the ServSafe exam.


Instructors at Jules E. Mastbaum Area Vocational Technical School created the Serve Safe Prep Program to help culinary arts students prepare for the safety exam. This free, seven-week afterschool program provides students with an opportunity to expand their learning about becoming a safe food handler beyond the classroom. Students who participate in the program have a chance to test their knowledge about what it means to be a safe food handler. Students also have the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge through hands-on activities and by earning digital badges.

The primary goal of the ServSafe Prep Program is to expand opportunities beyond the classroom for students to be ready to take the ServSafe exam. During the program, students use a social learning platform called “Digital On-Ramps: The Remix”. On “The Remix”, students complete challenges that focus on six areas of safe food handling related to ServSafe exam: basic food safety, good personal hygiene, controlling time and temperature, preventing cross-contamination, cleaning and sanitizing, and allergens. Students explore these challenges and earn digital badges after successfully completing them.

Digital badges are a symbol of accomplishment in a digital format. Badges document a student’s learning experience of a knowledge or skill. Digital badges give students an opportunity to document learning experiences that may happen outside of the classroom. Badges are evidence-based, which means that students must show evidence of mastery before they can earn the badge. Through digital badges, students can showcase and share their learning experiences and competencies among their peers, teachers, employers, and others.

The program was sponsored through Philadelphia Academies, a non-profit organization dedicated to working with Philadelphia schools and career and technical education. In order to participate, students must be sophomores, juniors, or seniors enrolled in the culinary arts program at Mastbaum High School. Students are expected to stay after school until 4:30 one day per week. Participating students were provided with food each week. Students who completed all seven weeks of the program also earned movie tickets.

Origin / Implementation

This initiative began in 2015. The purpose of this program is to provide enhanced, supplemental activities to assist students in acquiring an industry certification that is particularly important to the hospitality industry.

Results / Impact

In 2015, the first year of the program, 10 students passed the certification. Instructors also noted improvement in students’ test taking skills and knowledge of safe food handling concepts. In 2016, 16 students participated in the program and 15 of those students received the certification.

The instructor is planning to continue with the program with the goal of increasing the number of students participating and passing the ServSafe Managers Certification. She is also working on strategies to help students with IEPs prepare for and pass the exam.


Jules E. Mastbaum Area Vocational Technical School

W. David Bowman, Principal

Robin Ricca-Bouden, Culinary Arts Instructor

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