The Arc Mercer is a Greater Mercer County Premier Agency providing Community Based services for individuals with special needs and developmental disabilities.  We offer one of the strongest vocational programs in Mercer County, serving over 300 people with special needs.  The ARC Mercer’s Food Service Program provides skills training for careers in the food service industry. Students who complete the program successfully are certified to work in food-related services such as restaurants, food markets, cafeterias and others.

The program is based on ServSafe, the industry gold-standard for food service. Upon successful completion of the program a trainee may receive the ServSafe Food Handlers Certificate or the Agency’s Certificate of Completion, which is the equivalent. 

Food service participants learn on-the-job skills including basic food preparation skills; cooking techniques and strategies; proper use of utensils; food serving skills, light kitchen duty machinery such as blenders, food processors, and dishwashers; kitchen safety protocols, sanitation procedures, and end-of-shift cleaning.  

Students begin their training with an orientation and skill assessment class. Upon completing this class, students are assigned their first on-the-job task of working on a food preparation team for our Café.  Some of the skills they acquire within the first week include proper grooming, what is appropriate attire to wear in the kitchen, how to properly wash hands, when to wear gloves, how to peal, how to slice, and how to grate certain vegetables. Students’ rotate through different stations in the cafe and then transition into kitchen/cafeteria operations where they are provided the opportunity in working directly with the public.

Training is complete when students successfully run a shift at the agency’s cafe from food preparation, to food server, to cashier.  Upon completing the food service program, staff members assist trainees in future job searches. The Arc Mercer has established a large partnership network of food-related businesses which are looking for qualified food service employees.  

Our goal is to assist in providing opportunities for realizing one’s potential.  Many food service professionals list “sense of team, or feeling of belonging to a team” as one of the principle reasons they chose a career in the food industry. Food-career professionals are hardworking and enjoy preparing quality food for service to others.

The Arc Mercer is a leader among vocational training programs for adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities.

For more information contact Family Supports at 609.406.0181, ext. 112 or email familysupports@arcmercer.org