Niagara Falls High School is helping students learn what it is like to be out in the workforce.  Working in a cafe or bakeshop like, Tim Hortons, Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks can often be the first job for a 16 or 17-year-old.

The “F BITES We Proudly Serve Starbucks” program launched at NFHS this past week.

The students are training in an 'in-school coffee shop' to be baristas and range in age from 14 to 17. They’re responsible for making coffee and specialty drinks, cashing, cleaning, and other coffee shop tasks.

The program was designed to help students learn job and life skills, Niagara Falls High School teacher Ricco Slaiman said.

Slaiman serves as teacher liaison for the program... (and happens to be a friend of mine.)

“The students are trained how to be baristas,” Slaiman said. “We even have a student managing the group.”


Working the coffee shop isn’t just beneficial as a learning experience for students, Slaiman added.


“It has improved their attitude toward school in general,” Slaiman said. “It really gets them on the right foot for the day- it’s carried over in improved attendance, better academic performance, better behavior- they treat each other with more respect.”

The F BITES (Food-Based Interventions with Technology, Energy and Science) program started in 2009 as an after school program.

“F BITES Proudly Serves Starbucks” is a six-week program in which students follow a curriculum, learning how to be baristas.


The program concludes with the students getting a Barista Certificate and SafeServ certified, an accomplishment they can bring with them to their next job.


They also earn work-based learning hours that count toward graduation requirements, as well as splitting the tips they earn, which come out to about $20 per week.


“I’ve been told [the program] is the first in the nation,” Slaiman said. “I think teaching students these everyday job and career skills is just as important as anything they learn in school.”


F BITES is a nonprofit created by Niagara Falls native Chef Bobby Anderson. For more information on the program, click here.